CONSENSUS ON IT INFRASTRUCTURE:

After a long time some good news  is coming from the Centre in relation to Goods and Services Tax. The Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers have approved the position paper of the Centre on the Information Technology [ IT] network for the proposed Goods and Services Tax. IT infrastructure is going to play a major role in the smooth implementation of Goods and Services Tax.

This news comes in such circumstances when no consensus is building among the Centre and States on the Draft of the Constitution Amendment Bill. No doubt, it is a morale boosting news for all those who are favouring the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax. But still the priority for the Government  is the finalisation of the Draft Constitutional Amendment  on the GST so that the Amendment Bill may be introduced in the Winter Session of the Parliament.

Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, prepared the position paper which describes what the IT system will do and how it will operate.IT infrastructure will play a huge role in interstate GST. Inter-state GST (IGST) will be collected by the Centre and passed on to the states. It will have to be transferred electronically. Earlier,the government announced that it will float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for setting up information technology (IT) infrastructure for the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). The SPV, called GST N (Network), will have the Union government, the states and a technology partner as its stakeholders.The SPV will first test the tax platform interface of the government with the taxpayer’s software. It will also test the Centre’s system with that of states. Facilitation centres will be made for businesses which do not have computers.

The Centre’s online tax payment application, ACES (Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax), will be modified for GST. The systems of states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, which are well advanced, may also make fine adjustments to simplify complex processes. This would be necessary to ensure some uniformity across the states.

The finance ministry is looking forward to put IT requirements, data structure and filing standards in the public estate much before the GST rollout, so that people get familiar with the system.

Unless and Until no consensus is build on the Draft of the Constitution Amendment Bill, all other works regarding Goods and Service Tax are of no use. So for the time being the main focus of the Finance Ministry will be on the sorting out of the differences between the Centre and the States on the Draft so that a consensus is formed that will help in the smooth implementation of the Goods and services Tax.