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In the last 72 hours, Abhishek Chugh, a 30-year-old accountant has been a friend, philosopher and guide to more than 250 anxious retailers, traders, shopkeepers, who approached the GST helpdesk in Chandni Chowk in New Delhi. The biggest indirect tax reform — the goods and services tax (GST) — was rolled out on July 1. Some worried about their fate of business even broke down, leaving Chugh a little awkward while he tried hard to convince them that things were not as bad as they seemed. “On Monday, two small-time shopkeepers broke down. They said that they do not have the money to buy computers, nor do they know how to use them. I explained that they do not need to buy computers and it is not that capital-intensive,” he said. Chugh is not the only one out there guiding people through the tax maze.
According to various industry bodies, more than 3,500 GST helpdesks, 8,000 tax consultants, 100 helplines have all come up in the last five days.Industry bodies, trader and retailers associations have set up helpdesks across the country to assist businessmen in finding answers to all their GST related issues. In the last few days, majority of the queries received have been on GST rates, Harmonized System of Nomenclature Codes and business-to-consumer invoice format and requirements. According to industry experts, a number of tax consultants have been hired on part-time basis to sit at these helpdesks and help them with anything and everything related to the GST. “Every trader body is having a set of helpdesks to aid businessmen. We have 122 GST clinics of our own, manned by around 150 consultants. Many of the traders are concerned about how they will get input tax credit and if value-added tax credit would be transferred to GST or not,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). Help centres are not only helping people learn about GST but also gain more business. GST Suvidha providers shortlisted by the GST Network believe that they have struck gold and are going for major expansion. “Many people are not only coming to our GST centres to clear their doubts but using us to file the GST. At present, we have 1,500 such centres across the country. We plan to take it to 45,000 by the end of this year. People are coming with ‘kutcha’ bill or invalid bills and asking us how they can file it,” said Praveen Dhabhai, chief operating officer, Payworld. Some of the industry bodies have got into tie-ups with major companies to provide tools to ease filing of the GST. “Retailers Association of India (RAI) has tied up with Reliance Jio-GST and has launched a low-cost GST compliance software package for small traders and retailers to aid them in maintaining records and filing of the GST returns. The telecom operator is one of the GST Suvidha providers,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, chief executive officer, RAI. Industry bodies such as CAIT are also planning to compile a bunch of queries and make a memorandum for the government.