Jun 22, 2017

Two-month delay in GST services to be fully functional, say Suvidha Providers

BYPankaj Mishra

Hoping for a smooth ride for companies under the Goods and Services Tax regime, GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs) have said that a two-month extension is expected as software for filing tax returns or application programme interfaces (APIs) will only be available by the end of June.
Once the APIs are available, it would take them a few weeks to test the software.
“On the GSP front, we have initiated the audit process as per the agreement with the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), but the services will be available a few weeks later since it has to work in coordination with the GSTN roadmap,” Bharat Goenka, managing director of Tally Solutions, told IANS.
“GSTN has its roadmap for release of APIs and we continue to believe that time is too short for testing. We will be ensuring that we do not make hasty product releases in the market but only release robust solutions,” he said.
APIs are a set of tools on which the GSPs will develop applications for accounting software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), filing and billing, which will help businesses comply with the new indirect tax regime.
The delay in release of the APIs has occurred because the rules were still in a fluid state and the GST Council approved five of them in its recent meeting on June 18. The five rules approved relate to advance ruling, appeal and revision, assessment, fund settlement and anti-profiteering.
“The rules remain fluid and also continue to have ambiguities which we hope and believe will get ironed out over time,” Goenka said.
Saket Agarwal, Global CEO of Spice Digital, said that over the last couple of weeks, there have been quite a few changes. “For GSPs, these have come up as a major deterrent in their preparedness. For us, the focus has been on a scheme that will not only be scalable but also accommodate every change.”
He said that his GSP will be ready for the GST implementation in the coming month.
The Council has allowed businesses a relaxation of time for the first two months (July-August) for filing their returns. They will only need to submit a simple declaration initially, and will have time to furnish the exact “invoice-by-invoice data” in September.
“While there is definitely compliance relief, the testing of the APIs has been something that was a point of concern for all the GSPs. We are hopeful that the road towards filing of returns is not going to be bumpy one,” Agarwal said.
Some GSPs have already begun testing on the basis of the rules and fitment of goods available to them as of now.
Vinod Tambi, cofounder and COO, Excellon Software, told IANS, “Whatever is available to us at this point in terms of GST rules and taxes, we are already testing. We expect next set of data for finalisation of our system to test with.”
With the extension given by the government to file returns till September, there should be enough time to make the systems ready, he said.
Nishank Goyal, CEO, Masters India, said, “The extended time line for return filing will allow us to add more functionalities and features to the product.”
Sugal and Damani Utility Services, which operates under the brand name Payworld, said that the rollout of GST will increase the compliance requirements manifold and the GSPs need to ensure scalability.
“When GST goes live, the compliance requirement is going to increase drastically. With the rollout scheduled on time, as a GSP, our IT systems should be enabled to handle as many forms as we receive,” Praveen Dhabhai, COO of Payworld, said.
Along with GSPs, Application Service Providers (ASPs) have also said that they would need more time to prepare a fully functional solution.
While GSPs help businesses in uploading invoices and filing returns, ASPs actually help in converting the raw sales and purchase data of traders into GST returns.
“Our solution is not ready, we will need more time as the GSTN has to make more APIs available for a fully functional solution,” said Yogesh Huja, founder of Freedom Desi.
“It is unfortunate that when July 1 was the deadline for filing returns, GSTN is releasing APIs on June 29. If the APIs were released on time there shouldn’t have been any requirement of extension,” he said. However, he felt that two months would give them enough time to ensure a leak-proof solution.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.