Jaitley sets up war room to monitor GST implementation

By | September 20, 2016

A high-level meeting chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley last week decided to set up a ‘war room’ in the finance ministry comprising of top officials of the Revenue department and the Central Board of Excise and Customs for day-to-day monitoring of the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

The FM’s meeting, attended by Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka along with senior officials of the finance ministry, came a day after prime minister Narendra Modi took a review (on Wednesday) of the progress of the GST roll out. The PM had directed the FM and his officials to strictly stick to the deadline of April 1 next year.

The suggestion of the ‘War room’ came during the discussions when some members raised issues faced by the finance ministry in rolling out the information technology network. The testing of the software for the GST Network is yet to start across states. The Infosys has been given the contract for building the system and maintain it for five years. The technology giant is rolling out the network in 22 states while others, including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, are setting up the system themselves which requires to be linked with the central network.

Finance ministry officials say there are many gaps in the system which will be fixed only once the trial run begins. As of now, the government has not even decided on the tax slabs making it difficult for the finalisation of the software. There is confusion among Indian Revenue Service officials on their role in implementation of the GST network in states.

Though the modalities of the ‘war room’ is yet to be worked out, a source say officials from the CBEC and the revenue department will be designated specifically for the task to manage the set up and coordinate with states and agencies responsible for the roll out of the network.

On Thursday, after his meeting with the FM, Infosys CEO Sikka had described the task of rolling out GST network a “challenge” and said “there are many pockets where there is weak preparedness at this moment”. Sikka’s comments came after he gave a presentation to the FM on the progress made on the roll out of the GST network. He is learnt to have expressed certain concerns, which the government assured will be addressed.

The government is likely to advance the winter session of Parliament to pass the GST related legislations such as the central GST and the Integrated GST to give enough time to officials to frame rules for the GST implementation from April 1.  Source- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com [20-09-2016]

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