GST – Adapt & Transform

June, 2017

Times are changing – fast and furious. Old Guards are giving way to New Sentinels in new areas. FIPB is out. GSTN is in. FIPB, one of the last relics of the 1991 reforms is finally put to rest. GSTN (Goods and Service Tax Network), the backbone of the yet-to-be-born GST Act is firmly established and active. Set up in the Information Age, GSTN is a millennial baby aiming to provide trusted and efficient technology services for a smooth GST regime. Government must be lauded for all the right moves and preparations. But they must also be denounced for the hurried manner in which GST is being rolled out. For the multiple tax rates and confusing slabs for the same services. For prescribing 4 taxes (Central GST, State GST, Interstate GST & Union Territory GST) under the One Nation-One Tax Scheme. For some of the State Governments yet to pass the legislation. For continuing some of the absurdities of VAT and Service Tax. For a dealer requiring registration in multiple states. For missing an opportunity to usher in a simplified tax. I am not a tax expert but after attending a 3 day clause by clause GST discussion seminar last week, this is the impression I carry.

No doubt GST is path-breaking. Transformational. Reformative et al. But the roll-out slated for 1st July is going to be an uphill task. For a change, Government ‘seems’ better prepared than the private sector and public. Each one of us has lots to understand and change during this implementation. Unlike when VAT was introduced way back in 2003, at least this time, the Government has made its intention very clear that 1st July shall be the D-day. It is working overtime to ensure this. On the contrary, VAT had a false start in 2002 when all of us were prepared and waiting for the announcement on 31st March which didn’t happen. The comparisons, debates and analysis will go on for next couple of years as in the past when Companies Act was suddenly ushered in on 1st April, 2013. Be that as it may, lets move on. Accept the change. Brace ourselves. Adapt and Transform.

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