GST portal glitches to dominate agenda of Council meeting on Saturday

States are likely to ask for full compensation for the fiscal year, irrespective of collections, and pitch for extension of compensation period
Glitches on the goods and services tax (GST) portal will dominate the agenda of the Council meeting on Saturday, even as states will vehemently seek resolution of delayed compensation issue. Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani has been asked to make a presentation before the Council.

“Hassles on the GST portal even 30 months after roll-out is unacceptable and that has been communicated to both GST Network and Infosys,” said a government official.

States are likely to demand that Infosys should have a point of contact in each state to resolve these glitches, the official said. 

Meanwhile, the electronic invoice facility is likely to be deferred by three months from April 1 to July owing to lack of readiness of both GSTN and the taxpayers.

Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey took a detailed meeting with Infosys officials on March 7 on the GSTN-related matters, more importantly ahead of the crucial roll-out of new simplified returns from April 1. GSTN’s tech support partner Infosys has been asked to come up with a plan for quick resolution within a fortnight.

System capacity constraints and the inability of GST Network to provide smooth return filing will be taken up at the Council.

With new returns format to be rolled out from April, it was imperative for GSTN and Infosys to work effectively, he added.  The department of revenue, in a letter to Infosys on March 5, highlighted that the issues flagged in 2018 were still unresolved and that failures month after month resulted in genuine taxpayers getting frustrated. 

“It is requested to go through the pending issues, day-to-day disruptions and the future road map and come up with a plan for quick resolution within 15 days. Infosys has set high international standards and it is expected that the efficiency which your organisation is known for should be visible in GST project also,” the letter said.

It also said even though the GST system has been in operation for the last 30 months, there have been instances of taxpayer complaints on facing issues in filing returns in the last two days of filing of returns.  

“It is noticed that MSP (Master Service Provider) Infosys has been repeatedly asked to take timely action and to identify the root cause of issues after each event and taken corrective action. However, problem still persists,” it said.

The ministry said such glitches on the portal led to an unhealthy tax compliance requirement, more so when on account of such disruptions some taxpayers end up becoming liable for payment of late fee, interest.

The ministry is working to shore up GST revenues. In the April-February period this fiscal year, GST collection stood at Rs 11.24 trillion, down from Rs 12.67 trillion in the year-ago period.

No response at peak hours, wrong computation of late fees for annual returns for FY18, and offline tool not available for GSTR9 are among a list of problems flagged in the letter.

Compensation cess issue will be raised by the states, who are likely to ask for full compensation for the fiscal year, irrespective of collections and pitch for extension of compensation period. The Centre, meanwhile, is expected to clearly tell states that they will be compensated only as much as is collected in the cess fund, according to the law.

With only 56 per cent of compensation dues for October and November worth Rs 19.958 crore disbursed last month, states are expected to strongly seek a resolution on the matter. 

The Centre is supposed to compensate states on a bi-monthly basis for any losses they incur in the first five years of GST implementation. The loss is estimated if they do not record 14 per cent increase in the subsumed indirect taxes keeping 2014-15 as the base year. 

The Centre has released a total of Rs 120,498 crore as GST compensation to the states and Union Territories so far in FY20 out of Rs 87,821 crore collected till February.

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