• Member of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) Mahender Singh has said that the world is keenly watching the progress of implementation of GST in India, by far the biggest indirect taxes reform in the country since Independence, which is vastly different both in terms of structure and scale than its versions being implemented in many other countries.

Addressing an Open House, one of many being held across the country to provide first hand information and address and solve problems being faced by state governments and businesses, at the CII Northern Region headquarters in Chandigarh on Saturday, he conceded that there were still issues and glitches in the GST system which are being attended to expeditiously, but affirmed that the E-Way Bill System was by and large functioning smoothly with more than six crore E-Way bills having already been generated.

Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

“While the entire GST and CBIC machinery is working day and night to integrate the informal sector in the formal mainstream and make the entire system seamless for all stakeholders, data analysis is also being strengthened to identify and penalize offenders wherever glaring mismatch is found in disclosures and actual compliance and in refund claims,” he asserted.

Congratulating the Chandigarh Zone states, especially Punjab, which had shown compliance to GST regime way above the national average, he hoped that Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh will continue their good work and show the way to the rest of the country.

Earlier Ms. Manoranjan Virk, Chief Commissioner, Chandigarh Zone, CBIC, informed the gathering that Punjab was leading the country, recording coverage of 92 percent against the national average of 85 percent. Himachal Pradesh (86 percent) and Jammu & Kashmir (83 percent) were not far behind, she added.

Several of the concerns raised and clarifications sought on GST related to filling, technical glitches, GST rates, returns, etc at the Open House were satisfactorily addressed on the spot by a battery of top ranking GST and CBIC officials, including CBIC Director General (Audit) P K Jain, CBIC Additional Directors General (GST) Yogendra Garg and S K Rahman, GST Council Joint Secretary Shashank Priya and GSTN Senior Vice President Vashishtha Chaudhary. Other issues were either under active consideration at various levels of the GST structure or would be addressed quickly, the gathering was assured by the extremely responsive team.

Participating in the deliberations, Punjab Excise & Taxation Commissioner Vivek Partap Singh maintained that most of the systemic problems had been resolved at the state level and a few others cropping up from time to time were being tackled in a time bound manner. He informed that Rs 325 crore worth of VAT refunds had been released by the state government in the previous month, and following the resolving of some procedural issues, GST refunds will also start flowing seamlessly soon.

He appealed to businesses in Punjab to start trying out the till now optional E-Way Bill System put in place in Punjab before it becomes compulsory from June 1. It was already running successfully in the rest of the country, he added.

Himachal Pradesh Excise & Taxation Additional Commissioner Sanjay Bhardwaj said while the organized industry had completely jelled with the GST system, the challenge was to seamlessly integrate the informal sector in the formal tax structure at the earliest.

Intervening during the Open House, Mahender Singh informed the gathering that during a six months analysis of data startling facts had come to light in case of importers. It had been revealed that there was a mismatch to the extent of Rs 10,000 crore between Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) actually paid and what was filed in the returns. In other cases Rs 29,000 crore worth of IGST had been paid by importers but had not reflected in their returns, pointing to the fact that those goods had been sold off elsewhere. Legal action has been initiated against such offenders, he added.

Agreeing with an observation that the GST helpline was not proving to be very effective as those manning it were perhaps not well versed with rules and nuances of the GST regime, GSTN Senior Vice President Vashishtha Chaudhary said businesses can instead visit the Self Help Portal, where they get multiple options of subjects while seeking clarifications and they get automatically generated replies to their queries. In case they still remain dissatisfied they can send a mail which is then got addressed by a team of officials.

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