SHILLONG: Meghalaya will be fully ready by mid-September to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with full force, claimed a senior tax official on Monday.
The statement comes at a time when consumers in the State are complaining about anomalies in prices asked by shop owners and the confusion over service tax.
Commissioner of Taxes Abhishek Bhagotia on Monday told The Shillong Times that businessmen would not go a long way by manipulating prices.
“The invoice format is already uploaded in the system right through the manufacturing stage of the product and people would not be able to survive for long if they indulge in any kind of manipulation in the new tax regime,” he explained.
Bhagotia said once GST is implemented fully, any error in calculation on the part of traders would invite 18 per cent GST whereas any intentional miscalculation would attract 24 per cent penalty.
On being asked about some shopkeepers charging State and Central GST, the official said the taxes are usually divided into two parts where one part is state’s share and the other goes to the Centre.
Talking about the hiccups in the new tax format, Bhagotia said as of now traders in Meghalaya as well as in other parts of the country are still trying to understand the details of GST and there are specific directions from the Centre that traders should not be harassed but facilitated in implementing changes.
“Right now we are in a transition period but will be fully ready for the new tax regime by mid-September,” he said.
Bhagotia said since people will file their Income Tax returns by August this year, many in the State are yet to be acclimatised with the entire system. In fact, many are either confused or are not aware of the manner in which GST operates.
“Some people give wrong names in their PAN card and later complain to us. So all these issues are being rectified,” Bhagotia said.
Responding to a query, the official said over 9,000 people in the State have already registered for GST and added that the inspectors of the department are going to shops to explain to traders the entire process of GST, besides helping them rectify their calculation errors.
The introduction of GST is expected to be a very significant step in the field of indirect tax reforms in India.
By amalgamating a large number of Central and State taxes into a single tax and allowing set-off of prior-stage taxes, GST aims to mitigate the cascading taxation effects and pave the way for a common national market.
For the consumers, the biggest gain is expected to be in terms of a reduction in the overall tax burden on goods, which is currently estimated at 25-30 per cent.
Introduction of GST will also make our products competitive in the domestic and international markets. Studies show that this will instantly spur economic growth.
Meanwhile, a well-known hotelier and Managing Director of the Centre Point Group Enterprise, Larsing Ming Sawyan, asserted that so far, they have not faced any major hurdles with the GST rollout.
He said he has been keeping a track of the developments for the past 2-3 months and their accounts and finance team is in constant touch with Chartered Accountants and the Service Tax Department to understand the nitty-gritty of the new tax regime.
“All our systems are in place for the GST,” he said.
Echoing similar views, Niraj Surana, a member of the Meghalaya Chamber of Commerce and Industry admitted that there were apprehensions but things are settling down following the rollout of GST and more traders are coming forward to enroll for the new tax regime.
He said it is very difficult for any trader to evade tax since the entire system has been designed in a very systematic way.
Praising GST for removing all barrier such as road permits and other taxes during the movement of goods from different parts of the country, Sawyan said the Government should now take the initiative to even villages where people till date have internet problems.
He however lamented that the entire GST system has not been clearly interpreted.
“They have tried to devise a system where people can quickly call for clarification and queries but people are guided to an email address and many times, they don’t reply to the queries,” he said.