Project Saksham, a new indirect tax network of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 2256 crore, which will be incurred over a period of seven years, a PIB release said today.Here are five things to know about Project Saksham and why it is necessary for the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country.
1. Project Saksham will help in the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). It will also help in the extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and Ease of Doing Business of CBEC.
CBEC’s IT systems need to integrate with the Goods & Services Tax Network (GSTN) for processing of registration, payment and returns data sent by GSTN systems to CBEC, as well as act as a front-end for other modules like Audit, Appeal, Investigation. There is no overlap in the GST-related systems of CBEC and GSTN.
2. For Project Saksham, the IT systems of CBEC will be completed by April 1, 2017, when GST is to be introduced. The IT systems will be upgraded while the existing tax-payer services will be kept running.
3. At present, there are about 36 lakh taxpayers, importers, exporters and dealers under various indirect tax laws administered by CBEC. The number is likely to go up to over 65 lakh after the introduction of GST.
4. The introduction of GST will result in a several-fold increase in the number of taxpayers and resultant document load on the system. CBEC’s current IT system was set up in 2008. It cannot cater to the increased load under GST without an immediate upgrade of its IT Infrastructure. Further, CBEC has implemented the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and is integrating other partner agencies involved in Customs clearance in order to make the process simple and fast. The Customs EDI system which is currently operational at about 140 locations in India has to be extended to many more locations with improved response time and better service delivery.
5. Taxpayers have to be given a facility for Upload of Digitally Signed Scanned Documents in order to reduce the physical interface with tax authorities and to increase the speed of clearance. CBEC also aims to introduce mobile services for taxpayers and departmental users to increase the outreach of its services.