'Government moving ultra-fast, April 2017 GST deadline achievable'

 With the government moving at "ultra-fast" pace on GST, the cut-off date of April 1, 2017, for rolling out the new indirect tax regime now seems achievable, tax experts said today.

'Government moving ultra-fast, April 2017 GST deadline achievable'

New Delhi: With the government moving at "ultra-fast" pace on GST, the cut-off date of April 1, 2017, for rolling out the new indirect tax regime now seems achievable, tax experts said today.

With the Union Cabinet today approving setting up of the GST Council, experts said that the level of preparedness at the end of state governments needs to be closely monitored.

"There is no case any more for India Inc to remain in the 'wait and watch' mode. It's high time that businesses roll up their sleeves to work towards creating a GST compliant internal set up by the go-live date," said Rajeev Dimri, Leader, Indirect Tax, BMR & Associates LLP.

He said the government is moving at "light speed" to meet the April 1, 2017 timeline.

Nangia & Co Director Rajat Mohan said government is going "ultra-fast" on GST and it indicates the motivation with which it is working towards the early roll out of GST in India.

"Keeping in view the leap taken by government in completing the legal formalities, the target date of April 1, 2017 now seems achievable," Mohan said.

PwC India Leader (Indirect Tax) Pratik Jain too said that things continue to move at a rapid pace on GST front.

"It is encouraging to see that within four days of the assent of the Constitution Amendment Bill by the President of India, the government has approved setting up of the GST Council and the first meeting of the GST Council is to be held within 10 days of the Cabinet approval," Jain said.

He said implementation of GST from April, 2017 would be contingent upon the speed at which the GST Council is able to build a consensus on issues such as rates, exemptions, dual control etc. "The central government seems to be making all the efforts to meet this deadline".

The all powerful GST Council will be chaired by Union Finance Minister and have state finance ministers as its members. The Council will be recommending on key aspects of legislative framework required for implementation of GST in India.

Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP Partner Prashant Deshpande said the Council is expected to first take up the finalisation of Model GST law for its recommendation to and enactment by Parliament and state legislatures.

"On the immediate agenda of the Council would be finalisation of rate and exemptions, without a fix on which the stakeholder consensus would be difficult to achieve," he said

Dimri said as soon as the Council gets formed it will have a platter full of important and critically time driven deliverables.

"The most important of them being reaching consensus amongst all states regarding several aspects of levy and administration of GST in India viz. Tax rates, list of goods to be exempt/taxable on merit rates of GST, determining threshold for taxable turnover for goods and services, and so on," he said.

Eyes would be set on how GST Council would resolve key pending items such as common adjudication and assessment by the Centre and the states, fate of existing tax incentives to the industry and deliberation of various industry representations for model GST law.

The Council will identify goods and services that may be subjected to tax or exempted, principles governing place of supply, thresholds, GST rates including floor with bands and special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities and special provisions for certain states.

The government plans to roll out GST from April 1, 2017. The GST Council will have to finalise the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) laws so that Parliament can approve it in the Winter session beginning November.

Touted as the biggest tax reform since the Independence, the GST will subsume excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies.