Infosys under scanner for GST glitches
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