In­fosys un­der scan­ner for GST glitches

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

The role of In­fosys, which was as­signed the work of cre­at­ing, up­dat­ing and main­te­nance of the GST por­tal, is un­der scan­ner as traders are com­plain­ing about its poor per­for­mance.

Traders have de­cided to raise the is­sue be­fore Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley. The move comes fol­low­ing the GST Coun­cil re­duc­ing to just 50 the num­ber of items in the high­est tax rate of 28%, at its 23rd meet­ing in Guwa­hati this week. The Coun­cil de­cided to re­duce the tax rate on 178 of the 228 items from 28% to 18%, with ef­fect from 15 Novem­ber. It also took many de­ci­sions to sim­plify the re­turn fil­ing rules to ease com­pli­ance bur­den, pro­vid­ing much needed re­lief to the traders’ com­mu­nity.

Praveen Khan­del­wal, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of All In­dia Traders, told The Sun­day Guardian: “Even af­ter four months of GST im­ple­men­ta­tion in the coun­try, the GST por­tal which was sup­posed to func­tion prop­erly from 1 July, is still work­ing like an ex­per­i­ment project, caus­ing im­mense ha­rass­ment to the traders, who are very much dis­gusted with the por­tal. It is like a night­mare for us. We will take up the is­sue with the Fi­nance Min­is­ter.” Khan­del­wal is also a mem­ber of the Ad­vi­sory Group to Law Re­view Com­mit­tee of the GST Coun­cil.

Khan­del­wal even went on to say that In­fosys and other com­pa­nies con­cerned are re­spon­si­ble for the fail­ure of the por­tal and there­fore, the gov­ern­ment should con­duct a probe by the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI), as to why they failed to pro­vide an ef­fi­cient por­tal. “It is like be­tray­ing the na­tion,” he added.

The trade body has de­manded a third party au­dit into tech­ni­cal and other is­sues re­lated to the por­tal. It has also urged the gov­ern­ment to re­lease a White Pa­per on the sta­tus of the GST por­tal. It said there should be in­ves­ti­ga­tion on what con­di­tions the work was awarded to In­fosys and other com­pa­nies and neg­li­gence on their party for non-per­for­mance of the con­tract.

“It should also be in­ves­ti­gated whether it amounts to any scam in desta­bil­is­ing the GST tax­a­tion sys­tem. The poor func­tion­ing of the por­tal has given a bad name to a good tax­a­tion sys­tem,” Khan­del­wal said, adding “it is be­cause of the malfunctioning of the por­tal that traders are un­able to be­come GST com­pli­ant”.

Khan­del­wal said that in the last three years, over Rs 1,400 crore has been spent on the por­tal, but the re­sults have been far from sat­is­fac­tory. “The fail­ure of the por­tal could be gauged from the fact that the date for fil­ing of GST re­turn for July month has been ex­tended up to 30 Novem­ber, be­sides sev­eral other com­pli­ances. he added. The Di­rect Ben­e­fit Trans­fer ( DBT) fa­cil­ity was in­tro­duced in 2013 to elim­i­nate the role of mid­dle­men be­tween gov­ern­ment schemes and the peo­ple who are meant to be ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the schemes, thus en­sur­ing that who­ever is granted money gets it di­rectly in their bank ac­counts. How­ever, ed­u­ca­tion ex­perts sug­gest that the DBT can be used as more than just a money trans­fer fa­cil­ity. Parth J. Shah, pres­i­dent, Cen­tre for Civil So­ci­ety (CCS), talks to The Sun­day Guardian high­light­ing the chal­lenges in the cur­rent DBT sys­tem in ed­u­ca­tion and its po­ten­tial. Ex­cerpts: Q. There are 21 schemes in higher ed­u­ca­tion and six schemes in school ed­u­ca­tion that are cur­rently be­ing im­ple­mented through Di­rect Ben­e­fit Trans­fers (DBT). Since DBT’s in­tro­duc­tion, has the im­ple­men­ta­tion GOT EF­fi­CIENT? A. These schemes have been cash schemes any­way. Schol­ar­ships in­volve giv­ing money. So be­fore DBT and af­ter DBT, the way cash was trans­ferred has changed. The process that was fol­lowed ear­lier in­cluded the schol­ar­ship money go­ing to the school prin­ci­pal and he

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