GST Network readies rollout pitch


NEW DELHI: In the capital’s Aerocity, half-an-hour’s drive from Parliament, a team of 100 has been quietly piecing together the backbone for the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) regime.

The GST Network (GSTN) – a not-for-profit company that has the Centre, states and leading financial institutions as shareholders – is around 60 days from launching the first step towards rolling out the ambitious tax reform initiative some 240 days from now.

GSTN is creating the IT infrastructure to migrate nearly 65 lakh entities registered with the excise or service tax departments and with VAT departments in the states onto one platform from October. “The tougher part is the states since each of them has a different format for VAT. We plan to complete this process by February so we are ready for GST from April 1,” said an officer.

 The agency has validated several business entities using permanent account numbers (PANs) and 58 lakh (around 90%) of them have been found active. Although the number appears large, nearly 30% of registered entities have a turnover of under Rs 5 lakh, which means they are part of the chain to get VAT credit but below the threshold to pay tax. Similarly, the officer said, many would be registered with multiple agencies and the number of those migrating to the common platform may come down.

With more registrations expected from April, GSTN will have an initial capacity to deal with 80 lakh entities, which can be scaled up to 1.5 crore quickly. Each taxpayer will be given a 15-digit GST Identification Number (GSTIN). The new entities are to be registered through an online mechanism.

 While Infosys is developing the software to capture the transactions, process returns and issue refunds, GSTN is awaiting the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill by Rajya Sabha to order hardware. Amid all this, it is also looking to borrow around Rs 800 crore from banks to meet its expenses before GST rolls out.


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