As the D-day for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) nears, focus has shifted to the preparedness of businesses for the July 1 rollout of the new taxation regime. Sumit Jha talks to Srikumar Mukherjee, advisor, applications, Oracle India to get a sense of the concerns of businesses gearing up to use its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other IT solutions for GST. Excerpts:
Would you and your clients still prefer a September 1 rollout of the new taxation regime considering several businesses have expressed concerns regarding paucity of time?
Personally, I don’t believe in changing the goalposts. If a reform has to be brought in, then one has to stick to the timeline. The government has given us enough time and heads up to be prepared for this change. However, as I said earlier, businesses are now tackling multiple factors to align themselves with the changes in the model laws of GST. Having said that, I still feel that bringing in the new tax regime from July 1 is possible with support from the government.
What is the most common concern that businesses have regarding GST?
GST is not like a minor change in tax law. It is one of the most ambitious changes in the taxation system of any country and will bring about a paradigm shift in how indirect taxes are managed in India. It is not an easy change for any company, large or small. Therefore, companies are looking into their internal business processes and are trying to map as per the GST model laws published by the government.
GST being a transaction based system, businesses are also working with their suppliers and customers—so that the complete supply chain process becomes seamless. Based on the requirements from the businesses, necessary IT solutions are being put in place. In other words, there are so many factors involved in this transition, that there is a lot of anxiety around the subsequent steps and understanding how the transition to the GST regime will take place. The most essential requirement is to make it as seamless as possible.
The indications from the government is that the GST rates for various commodities and services may only be made public a few days before July 1 to make sure hoarding or black marketing does not happen. Does that present a challenge for Oracle in terms of training and finalisng your product for clients?
The GST solution of Oracle is user configurable. Hence, even if the rates of goods and services are made public a few days before the appointed date, users will be able to configure the rates.
The GST Council has come out with several rules in the last few days. Has that helped prepare the businesses better or do the rules leave a lot of room for interpretation and hence not ideal for making a robust ERP?
GST is the most significant socioeconomic reform since independence in India. The GST Council has been doing a phenomenal job in bringing about changes in the laws so that we fulfill the “one tax one nation” dream of our Prime Minister. There will be some changes in the rules in a large country like India. However, software providers are taking cognizance of that. We, at Oracle, have the experience of rolling out GST solutions for our ERP in many countries in the world and hence, we are fully prepared for these changes. Apart from the initiatives mentioned earlier, Oracle is also putting together a customer facing team to provide support to any customer who needs to draw up a GST architecture across multiple systems, which can include infrastructure, hardware, software, integration capability and of course, GST management solutions.
How many clients have you trained so far on the new GST software?
Ever since the first conversations around the introduction of GST in India, Oracle recognised that a central taxation system in the country was the future and started working on a GST solution. We have a dedicated team of product managers, tax specialists and developers across all our product lines working on GST. The team follows all notices, notifications and announcements from the government and works towards alignment with these developments. There is a very high focus on providing GST support to our customers.
Oracle has a massive customer base in India. we have been reaching out to them on the strategy, approach and roadmap for our GST solution. We have arranged round-table conferences in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi , and are regularly conducting webinars as well as face-to-face meetings to help them navigate this change. We are not only appraising our customers on the GST solution, we are also guiding them on the steps they should follow to make them GST compliant. Moreover, we have a large partner network. Our partners are reaching out to our customers proactively and ironing out any issues that they may be facing. Oracle also has a large set of global customers with operations in India and we are working with them to ensure they are ready to embrace GST for their Indian entities. We are confident that our development team is geared up to manage any complexity with respect to GST.