By Ishita Misra
With the new tax system set to roll out on the 1st of July in India, preparations are underway to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible. The revenue department has already set up helpline numbers so that the stakeholders can understand legal or IT related issues of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
In order to make the transition easier for the industries, Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha has asked all ministries and departments to set up a GST facilitation cell that will help resolve any sectoral concerns.
Easing the task of the finance ministry
The Indian government has already been working towards a smooth transition by trying to provide adequate infrastructural and legal preparedness of the central and state tax network. However, the initial success of GST also hinges on the ability of the industries and business associations to deal with the changes in the tax regime. As the GST rates were finalised only in May, the government needs to take steps to ensure that the industries are in compliance with the new tax system by the time it rolls out.
Prime Minister Modi expressed in a meeting, that the finance ministry cannot manage the herculean task of getting all the industries ready for GST on its own. He added that implementation of GST is an integrated process that needs to be worked out by all ministries affected by GST. Creation of the facilitation cells will allow the government to deal with the multitude of industry queries in a more efficient and effective manner.
A facilitation cell for each ministry
The GST facilitation cells in each ministry will serve as the first point of contact for answering questions and addressing problems faced by any sector related to the ministry. Furthermore, the cells will be in constant touch with major industries and business associations related to the respective ministry. The cells will be managed by a small core team headed by the economic adviser or any other officer of the ministry.
Each ministry needs to study its relationship with GST and take note of all the possible problems that could arise. It also needs to deal with the stakeholder’s concerns and solve their problems by the 1st of July. In order to be easily accessible to the stakeholders, the Prime Minister asked every ministry to open up a website or establish a sector oriented call centre to answer queries. Moreover, to ensure that every problem and query is dealt with in time, efforts will be taken to facilitate the stakeholders even at night.
The Cabinet Secretary has also asked the ministries to ensure that all public sector units (PSUs) under the administrative control of their respective ministry, are compliant with GST before its commencement. The secretaries have been asked to hold meetings with the chairpersons of PSUs to ensure that they understand the impact of GST and how to deal with it. The Cabinet Secretary also mentioned that each PSU may constitute a GST cell and each cell should be fully equipped with the complete knowledge of all the relevant GST Acts, rules, rates and structures.
Readying for the impact
The new scheme of tax administration will not only have an impact on the taxpayers but also on the work of various ministries including PSUs and other autonomous bodies. Efficient functioning of the GST facilitation cells can help tide over numerous problems that can be caused by the transition to the new tax regime.
The cells will help ensure that businesses cannot use problems in transition as an excuse to evade tax payments. The move will also ensure that the ministries are not blindsided and know how to tackle the problems before GST rolls out.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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