After the nod from President Pranab Mukherjee to the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2014, and its Gazette notification, the process remains long in implementing the pan-India Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime will be that the parliament will once again have to take up three relevant bills — one to permit the central government to levy a Central GST, another for an Integrated GST where more than one state is involved and then a model bill to facilitate states to levy their respective State GST.
In tandem, the states will have to enact their own legislation for their respective State GSTs. This is because the GST regime will involve the imposition of both a Central and a State levy, both at preferably identical rates.
Another main issue to be addressed is, What will be the GST rate? This remains a matter of hot debate and the various base rates recommended by experts and stakeholders vary from around 15.5 percent to as high as 26 percent.
The rate has to be decided by the soon-to-be-formed GST Council, which will be chaired by the Union Finance Minister with all state finance ministers as members.
The GST Council also has to put in place a dispute resolution mechanism.
The necessary IT infrastructure, too, has to be set up. Towards this, a non-government company was constituted in 2013 — Goods and Services Tax Network. This company has mandated Infosys to provide the IT backbone. The progress in this regard, officials maintain, is as per schedule.
The Goods and Services Tax Network has targeted October for the commencement of transferring all existing assessees to the new system, along with software and hardware tests.
Training will also begin for some 100,000 officials at the central and state levels who are involved with indirect taxes.
The coding of items and the rates of tax into the software is to commence in December, followed by beta runs from February.
The system, officials said, is expected to be fully functional by mid-February for trials — in time to meet the targeted roll-out date of April 1, 2017.