Revenue secretary reviews IT preparedness for GST roll-out

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Monday convened a meeting to review the status implementation of the GST Network, a measure of  IT preparedness of the various stakeholders, for the smooth roll-out of goods and services tax (GST).

The meeting discussed the status of preparation of software by the banks, RBI, principal CCA office, CBEC and GSTN along with details of protocol of information interchange between the various stakeholders. All authorised banks were directed to ensure that their IT systems are in place for networking with RBI, GSTN and the accounting authorities of central and state government authorities, latest by 30 September 2016.

Representatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), principal CCA, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), heads of government business and IT heads of 29 banks and goods and services tax network (GSTN) attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the number of states that have joined the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) - a complex back-end processing system that will handle the revolutionary tax reform roll-out from 1 April 2017 - has grown four-fold in less than three years.

GSTN is a not-for-profit entity owned by the centre, states and non-government financial institutions, and is building the technology backbone for new tax regime. A total of 21 states are now reported to be relying on GSTN to manage back-end tasks such as tax settlement, assessment, refunds, etc.

GSTN will benefit smaller states such as Arunachal hugely since it doesn't make sense for them to take the effort of appointing an agency and spend on building the technology just for a few thousand tax payers.

While large states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha had already joined GSTN, states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab which had earlier decided to build their own systems have also agreed to ride on GSTN technology now.

Realising the criticality of IT preparedness of various stakeholders, the department of revenue has been regularly monitoring the progress of IT preparedness of various stakeholders.

Finmin organises one-day training programme on Government E-Marketplace

The finance ministry on Monday organised a one-day training programme to enable government procurement officials to make best use of new technologies to procure goods and services in a more transparent, accountable and efficient manner.

Finance secretary Ashok Lavasa inaugurated the one-day hands on training programme for procurement officers of the central government ministries/departments on Monday.

The training programme has been jointly organised by DGS&D, National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD).

Complementing DGS&D, NEGD and NIFM for organising the training programme on the use of Government e-Marketplace (GeM), Lavasa highlighted that the roll-out of GeM within a short span of 5 months owes to the collaborative efforts of DGS&D, NeGD, finance ministry and several other government agencies.

GeM, he said, will enable government buyers to make the best use of new technologies to procure goods and services in a more transparent, accountable and efficient manner and with the same ease and efficiency that is presently offered by e-commerce sites.

He, however, said continuous efforts are required to improve the GeM portal and ensure that it remains free from manipulation and any unethical practices.

Lavasa also said that although it has been made mandatory on GeM to make payment to the vendors within 10 days of receipt of goods / services, efforts should be made to further reduce this time span as time is money and ultimately the cost of delayed payment is born by the government. GeM has a potential to grow and will bring in a lot of credibility and comfort in procurement decision making within the government, he added.

The training session was attended by more than 60 procurement officers from about 20 central government organisations based in Delhi and is the first such training programme. This will be followed by similar pan-India training sessions for all the central government procurement officers.