State finance ministers today red flagged the glitches in the GST Network’s (GSTN) portal faced by traders while filing their maiden returns for July. Ahead of the GST Council’s meeting here today, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said even as GSTN said that it can handle 3 billion invoices, the glitches in the portal show that GST was implemented in haste. The 21st meeting of the GST Council is being held here to discuss technology glitches in GSTN portal, imposition of higher cess on luxury and SUV cars and reduction tax rates on aboout two-dozen items.
Jammu & Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said that the issues faced by GSTN are operational and technical, and these would have happened even if the GST was implemented a year later. Drabu suggested that a group of ministers be formed to look into issues faced by taxpayers on GSTN portal. Mitra suggested that a white paper be brought out on the preparedness of GSTN– the company which is the technology backbone of GST. Due to huge rush of July GSTR-3B return filing on the penultimate date, the GSTN software witnessed glitches and the last date of filing was extended. Also the date of final return filing for GSTR-1 was extended to September 10 in view of rush in invoice uploading. State finance ministers are also expected to raise various issues flagged by traders and businesses in today’s meeting.
So far, over 45 lakh GSTR-3B, 17 lakh GSTR-1 and over 13 crore invoices have been filed on GSTN portal. Among other issues, the council will discuss quantum of hike in cess on a range of cars from mid size to hybrid variants. The Council in its last meeting on August 5 approved a hike in cess on mid, large size cars, SUVs, hybrid and luxury ones to up to 25 per cent, from earlier 15 per cent. Following that an Ordinance to hike the cess rate has been promulgated and the GST Council will now look at the quantum of hike on such cars.
The council will also consider lowering tax rates on over two dozen products, including idli/dosa batter, dried tamarind, custard powder and kitchen gas lighter after anomalies in their fixations were pointed out. The council will also formulate a mechanism to deal with businesses that are deregistering their brands post GST to avoid taxes. The fitment committee has proposed to the GST Council to consider May 15, 2017, as the cut off date for considering as a registered brand for the purpose of levy of GST, irrespective of whether or not the brand is subsequently deregistered. Unbranded food items are exempted from GST, whereas branded and packaged food items attract 5 per cent rate. Hence, many businesses are deregistering their brands to avoid the levy.