API rollout: GST Suvidha providers fret over delay

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New Delhi | Updated: Jun 13, 2017 6:59 AM

The inability of the Goods and Services Network (GSTN) to stick to its timeline for releasing application programming interfaces (APIs) has put the GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs) in a fix.

API is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications, which dictates how various software components interact.

The inability of the Goods and Services Network (GSTN) to stick to its timeline for releasing application programming interfaces (APIs) has put the GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs) in a fix. They cite paucity of time in developing and testing their applications without APIs. GSTN is a non-government company entrusted with building the IT backbone for the new indirect tax regime. So far, GSTN has authorised 34 GSPs to build their own customised solutions for their clients. The taxpayers can either file their return directly through the GSTN website or can use of the GSPs. “In our meeting on February 7 earlier this year, GSTN had shared a timeline for releasing APIs but they have failed to deliver on it,” a GSP told FE on the condition of anonymity. He added that GSTN has only released one API (for filing sales invoices) but has delayed the release of the other two. API is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications, which dictates how various software components interact. The software developers need the API to mount their own applications on them.

“Although the GST will come into effect from July 1, the taxpayers will need the application on August 10 to file their first return, which gives us more time. While two more APIs are yet to be released by the GSTN, what is more worrying is that even the first API is full of errors and would need to be updated,” another GSP said on the condition of anonymity.

However, some other GSPs downplayed the delayed roll-out of APIs, saying that they were fully prepared for July 1. “We are prepared in our IT infrastructure but the fact that we would be transitioning from a paper-based system to a fully digital ecosystem is likely to create teething issues,” Ankit Agarwal, managing director at Alankit Limited, a GSP, said.

Another GSP contended that the unavailability of APIs wasn’t a major hurdle as smart developers will find a way around it. He added that the developers that have been preparing for GST roll-out for a year now are in very good shape as they had to get ready by April initially before the roll-out was pushed back to July.

To bring more GSPs on boards, GSTN is conducting another round of selection process for a second batch. Several industry sources however said that more GSPs should have been selected by now as the current number is inadequate for the entire country.

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