As the Goods and Services Tax rollout date of July 1 approaches, nobody is sure how smoothly the new tax code will work initially. Even as the government claims that the “pangs” will be felt only for the first three months, business owners have already started feeling the heat as GST is expected to increase paperwork and compliance pressure for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
To combat panic, the government set up a Twitter handle to answer any queries that people may have about the new tax regime. While this handle, @askGST_GoI, tweets regularly and responds to people’s questions about GST and issues clarifications, it is turning out to be woefully inadequate.
An analysis of the tweets received by the account between June 17 to the afternoon of June 27 shows that the handle received more than 14,000 mentions in this period. While some of these were retweets or did not have questions, the rest were queries from people seeking clarifications on how GST is going to affect them and their respective businesses.
Some of the tweets included complaints about the GSTN site not working, the migration portal having technical snags and forms not getting uploaded on the GST portal.
On average, the twitter handle received about 1,000 tweets per day in the last 10 days and managed to respond to only 10% of those as the total tweets by the account stand at 1,290. Out of these, many are simply GST promotions while others are retweets of tweets about information disseminated through other government handles such as the finance ministry.
However, some queries did get promptly answered as the following tweets show.
GST could be a complex maze for businesses as the common tax code will come with five different slabs and six cesses under which the government has tried to accommodate more than 12,000 commodities. However, not all is going smoothly.
GSTN Chief Navin Kumar told the Business Standard that there has been no time to test last minute changes to the GST rules after the last three GST council meetings. GSTN is a private company with 49% share held by public sector entities tasked with providing the infrastructural backbone for the new tax regime. The GST system will be available in a staggered fashion starting July 1, as the coding for multiple phases is yet to be finished, Kumar added.
“For return form GSTR 1, the coding has been done and the testing is also at a very advanced stage. By July 15, GSTR 1 will be ready. GSTR 2 will be ready by the end of July and GSTR 3 will be ready 10 days after that,” Kumar was quoted as saying.
The ministry of finance’s indirect tax department had not responded to Scroll.in’s questionnaire till the time of publication of this article and this story will be updated with their response when they do.