West Bengal tops GST enrolment chart at 89.3% so far

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra expressed "serious doubts" about the country's preparedness to meet the July 1 deadline for the Goods and Services Tax rollout.  
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra had expressed “serious doubts” about the country’s preparedness to meet the July 1 deadline for the goods and services tax (GST) roll-out. But numbers suggest otherwise.

Data from the Kolkata Commissionerate of the service tax department show the pan-India GST enrolment rate at 84 per cent. But West Bengal logged 89.4 per cent. The numbers were shared with Business Standard by the The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The numbers, as on May 1, show the proportion of taxpayers who have enrolled themselves on the GST portal. This is required for them to pay taxes once the new indirect tax regime is implemented.

This percentage is an indicator of the state’s preparedness to adopt GST, said Bijay Kumar, principal commissioner of service tax at the Kolkata Commissionerate. Enrolment rate in Maharashtra and Delhi NCR were at 87.90 per cent and 84.6 per cent, respectively.

Under the current framework, taxpayers can either pay taxes via the Central Board of Excise and Customs (the central government’s interface) or use the VAT tax payment system (using the state government’s interface). “Taxpayers will have to migrate to the new GST system from their original network, which is either with the CBEC or the VAT department,” he said. According to the service tax department’s data, the GST enrolment percentage via the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) route was 82.4 per cent pan-India average. It was 91.2 per cent in West Bengal, the highest in this category. In value-added tax migration, West Bengal stood at 86.9 per cent.

Kerala is the only state, apart from West Bengal, which registered more than 90 per cent GST enrolment under the CBEC route. The average of both these routes was 85.56 per cent.

Typically, large-scale manufacturers and the service sector use the CBEC interface, while smaller taxpayers, retailers and others opt for the VAT network. The findings of the service tax department suggest at the all-India level, the preparedness of large-scale industries was 82.4 per cent, while that of the smaller players was 86 per cent. On May 30, Mitra had expressed “serious doubt” about the country’s preparedness in accepting the July 1 cut-off for GST. “Even large-scale industries are not ready. The requisite ERP is not in place and the software to connect the GST Network is not ready as well.” He had written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for postponement of the roll-out date, as small- and medium-scale sectors were not yet prepared for the new tax regime.

But latest the enrolment rate of GST puts West Bengal at the third spot in terms of preparedness, contrary to the state’s finance minister’s claims.

While Mitra will be taking up his case for lower GST rates on certain categories of goods and service with Jaitley in the forthcoming GST Council meeting on Saturday, Mitra is also on the lookout for support from other states.

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