Townhall meet to explain GST, address concerns


Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

The townhall type meeting is part of a massive outreach programme planned by the Revenue Department in the Finance Ministry.

In a first of its kind townhall meet on GST, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and tax officials will address traders and industry on September 17 to clear doubts and create awareness on the landmark indirect tax regime set to kick in from April 1 next year.

The townhall type meeting is part of a massive outreach programme planned by the Revenue Department in the Finance Ministry. Already radio jingles have started playing and plans are afoot to begin social media publicity through 3D animated characters. “Gujarat is organising a townhall kind of meeting where Revenue Secretary, State Finance Minister Nitinbhai Patel and other senior officials of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) will over three-four hours address concerns and queries posed by traders and industry,” an official said.

The government is aiming to implement GST from April 1, 2017, and is trying to reach out to common man and industry about the nitty-gritties of the new indirect tax regime. GST will subsume various indirect taxes levied by the central government and state governments, including excise duty, service tax, VAT, entertainment tax, entry tax and luxury tax.

Besides, registration to tax payment to return filing and refunds– all be done electronically. The revenue department has set aside a budget for the outreach programme that will also help acquaint traders and businessmen about processes to be followed for collecting and paying taxes under the GST regime.

“The 3D animated characters are usually eye catching. We will make use of social media and educate people about the benefits. Gradually, we will also roll out Youtube commercials along with newspaper advertisements,” the official said. The CBEC is planning a direct contact programme to reach out to the common man. “We will ask the Commissioners in every state to give interviews to local news channels and inform people about GST,” the official said.

Adhia has already said that a 24X7 call centre in every state will be formed which will answer queries relating to GST. Similarly, there will be a call centre for answering questions on GSTN for payment of taxes and claiming refunds. “We have devised modules to train people about GST. We will put it out on social media. To the extent possible, our officers will conduct townhall meetings in cities and towns to explain how GST will function.

“Detailed campaign will start across the country in December and till March we will explain to people about GST and how should traders comply with it,” Adhia had last week said. After Parliament passed the Constitution Amendment Bill on August 8, as many as 18 states have ratified the Bill. The legislation will now be sent to the President for assent. After the Presidential assent, the government will notify the GST Council. Union Finance Minister will head the Council, which will comprise state Finance Ministers.

The GST Council will decide on the tax rate, cess and surcharges which are to be subsumed and also decide on the goods and services which would be exempted from the purview of the new indirect tax regime.


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