Connectivity is not a big issue: GSTN chief

Surabhi New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 21, 2017

NAVIN KUMAR, Chairman, GST Network

Ruling out concerns that poor IT connectivity may impact GST compliance, Navin Kumar, Chairman of GST Network (GSTN), said filing a return will take only about 10 minutes and should not be a problem. GSTN, which forms the IT backbone of the new tax regime, will soon release its own software that taxpayers can use for filing returns online and ideally only large companies will need the help of GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs). In an interview with BusinessLine, he also stressed that GSTN is ready for the July 1 rollout. Excerpts:

Will poor internet connectivity impact compliance under GST?

It would be good if we have better connectivity in remote areas, but it is not much of an issue. About 65 lakh taxpayers across all States have enrolled. The number of activations in the North-East is less, but the numbers there are also very small. Many States had begun e-filing of returns under VAT. So tax consultants have found a way to file returns online or use their office in bigger towns. Since return filing takes only five to 10 minutes, it will not pose much of a problem. Some GSPs are also working on tab-based applications that can be connected through SIM cards.

What will be the merchant discount rate (MDR) for online tax payment?

Initially, we asked for the best offer from the gateways so that others may then match it. But we found several practical difficulties, as the charges are different for debit and credit cards for all gateways. So it is difficult to compare and match. Instead, we have decided that all of them can quote their rates on the portal. The taxpayer will decide. From time to time we will indicate the success rate.

Many GSPs have said GSTN is not ready for a July 1 rollout...

The role of GSPs is to help the taxpayers comply. They will not be serving all the taxpayers but only the large ones that already use ERP or accounting software. The issue is that they have to develop their systems.

GSPs have to provide two basic functionalities — upload the invoice data of sellers and download the GSTR-2 where the purchase data is and compare it for any mismatches. They can build those systems only after our systems are in place. GSTN had to make changes based on the final GST law and decisions taken by the GST Council.

Our system is almost ready for July and August. We gave the GSPs the specifications for GSTR-1 on June 9 and will give the real APIs on June 28. After that they will take a week to test. This means their APIs for GSTR-1 for invoice upload will be ready by July 5.

What kind of taxpayers should ideally use GSPs?

Smaller taxpayers with 200-500 invoices can directly upload them on our portal. Medium level businesses can use our Excel-based offline tool. We will be releasing it this week and it can handle 19,000 invoices at one go — it takes just 17 seconds to upload that. The larger firms such as auto and FMCG companies generate invoices in lakhs and will require the services of GSPs. The maximum I found was 28 lakh per month, which means one lakh invoices per day.

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Published on June 21, 2017
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