First of all, here’s the good news. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday tabled four Goods and Services Tax (GST) enabling bills in the Lok Sabha and they will be taken up together in the House for discussion on Wednesday. These bills have been tabled as Money Bills, which will not require the nod of the Rajya Sabha where the ruling alliance is a minority and once these bills are passed, State GST bills will be taken up by various state Assemblies. So, meeting the July 1 deadline now seems a definite possibility and India’s biggest tax reform since independence is going be a reality soon.
And, it’s now the time to get GST-ready. India has nearly 8 million registered businesses under the VAT regime, of which 90 percent are SMEs, and while GST will apply to all businesses with a turnover of Rs 20 lakh or more (Rs 10 lakh in case of NE states), I think it will be a tougher task for SMEs, compared to their larger counterparts, to move to the new regime. According to an estimate, as of now only 50 percent of SMEs have IT systems robust enough to comply with the requirements of GST and worse, less than 10 percent of SMEs are in a GST-ready position. This data is of course not encouraging.
The process of GST migration for state VAT began in November last year and the CBEC has recently requested assessees to whom a provisional identification has been issued to complete the migration to the GST portal by March 31. Those who have not received their provisional IDs have been informed to contact their respective tax office. In case of difficulties or queries regarding migration, an assessee can email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the National Toll Free GST Helpline 1800 103 9271. Some useful information on GST Suvidha Provider (GSP) can be found on the GSTN website and one can also call its helpdesk number 0124-4688999.
While the pace at which things are happening is encouraging, the fact should not be missed that SMEs are facing an uphill task while getting ready for GST. Unlike their large counterparts, they lack financial muscles, but the new regime will require them — besides getting down to the nitty-gritty of migrating to the new regime — to invest in IT systems, engage more manpower to follow-up with suppliers, automate accounting and inventory management, and align their invoice according to the new prescribed rules. Considering these challenges, I hope the Centre would take a considerate view for the sector in the initial days once GST kicks in.
Article Source: “http://www.smetimes.in/smetimes/editorial/2017/Mar/28/time-to-get-gst-ready32939.html”