GSTN should test system, fix deficiencies before roll-out to public: CAG

Topics GST | Goods and Services Tax | GSTN

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty

Government auditor CAG on Tuesday said that GSTN, the technology backbone for the goods and services tax, should test the system and fix the deficiencies before rolling out to the public.

In view of magnitude of the GST and its pan-India impact, it is all the more necessary that due care is taken both in development and testing of the system before roll-out, said the CAG report tabled in Parliament.

"The issues brought out in IT audit also pointed towards the need for GSTN to re-examine prioritisation of development of various functionalities, strengthen their root cause analysis and testing process to ensure that critical deficiencies in application are detected and rectified before roll-out to public," it said.

Commenting on the GST implementation, the report said one significant area where the full potential of GST has not been achieved is the roll-out of the simplified tax compliance regime.

"Even after two years of GST roll-out, system validated input tax credit through 'invoice matching' is not in place and non-intrusive e-tax system still remains elusive," it said.

On revenue collection, the report said the growth of indirect taxes of the central government slowed down to 5.80 per cent in 2017-18 over 2016-17 as compared to 21.33 per cent during 2016-17, with government's revenue from goods and services taking a 10 per cent dip.

It also noted that there was a short transfer of Rs 6,466 crore of GST Compensation Cess to the Public Account during 2017-18.

The CAG further said that system of payment and settlement of tax that was envisaged for GST was based on one hundred per cent invoice-matching and availment of input tax credit, as well as settlement of IGST on the basis of invoice-matching.

"Neither is possible as of now, as an invoice-matching system has not kicked-in," it said.

Invoice-matching is the critical requirement that would yield the full benefits of this major tax reform.

It would protect the tax revenues of both the Centre and the States, it would lead to proper settlement of IGST and would minimise, if not eliminate, the tax official-assessee interface, the report said.

In another report on direct taxes, which tabled in Parliament, the CAG said the IT system for direct taxes needs to be designed in such a way that it should ensure zero or minimal physical interface between the assessee and the tax officers.

"Government may consider the IT system for direct taxes being placed at arms length from CBDT, with an independent governmental body or organisation," it said.

The report also said the Central Board of Direct Taxes should examine whether the instances of "mistakes" noticed are errors of omission or commission and if these are errors of commission, then ITD should ensure necessary action as per law.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel