The finance ministry on Friday said it appointed Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), as the interim chairman of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) — the IT backbone for tax filing, registrations and migrations for taxpayers under the GST regime. Pandey was given additional charge days after GSTN’s first chairman Navin Kumar completed his term on August 29. Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia held the charge in the meanwhile. The UIDAI issues unique identification numbers (UID), named as Aadhaar, to all residents of India.
Pandey takes over the GSTN reigns at a time when taxpayers are struggling with the novelty of the return-filing system. While the businesses had a relatively easier time in filing interim summarised return (GSTR-3B) for July, many of them have struggled to come to grips with the full-fledged tax return process that involves uploading all the invoices to the portal and submitting a triplicate of forms (GSTR-1, GSTR-2, GSTR-3).
Last week, the government extended the deadline for filing the triplicate returns after reports of crash of the GSTN system a day before the deadline of September 5. The deadline for furnishing returns for both July and August have now been pushed back by two weeks to ensure taxpayers have more time and the system is put under less strain.
However, as FE reported on Wednesday, the pressure on the GSTN system was a result of habitual deferment of compliance to the last minute by big businesses, which generate the majority of invoices, as these firms uploaded only 36 lakh GSTR-1 invoices between July 24 and August 29. In contrast, its estimated that nearly 3 crore monthly bills would have to be uploaded given the current GST base.
In the week before Tuesday last week, taxpayers inundated the GSTN portal with over 2.5 crore invoices, causing it to wobble and compelling the government to a give a special window till September 10 to file the first of the triplicate returns (GSTR-1).
Pandey’s predecessor Kumar was a former IAS offer from the Bihar cadre, and the first chairman of GSTN. He was appointed on May 17, 2013 for three years, on completion of which his term was extended, with the condition that he would remain in office till he turns 65. The government has constituted a search committee for a new GST chairman comprising senior officials from the department of revenue.
GSTN is a Section 8 (under new the Companies Act, not-for-profit companies are governed under Section 8), non-government, private limited company. It was incorporated on March 28, 2013 with the Government of India holding 24.5% equity. All states, including the NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, together hold an equivalent equity. The balance 51% equity is with non-government financial institutions.
The company was set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the central and state governments, taxpayers and other stakeholders for implementation of GST.