The proportion of tax-paying traders has increased to 70 per cent of those registered on the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) as the technology backbone built by Infosys has begun to stabilise and make it easier for them to file returns, said Bihar Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Saturday. In July, when the GST regime came into force, thousands of traders faced glitches in filing returns. About 42 per cent of the 5.3 million members registered on the GSTN filed returns with a zero-tax liability. The outrage over glitches and concerns of state governments about revenue losses compelled the Centre to form an empowered group of ministers (GoM), which Modi heads, to look into the technology issues. The group identified 47 glitches, which Infosys had to iron out within a timeframe. After five reviews, these glitches have been rectified and the process has been made simpler for traders. “In July 42 per cent of tax filings had zero tax liability, in August it was 32 per cent, and in October it was 30 per cent,” said Modi, who leads the group, on Saturday. A majority of traders had an annual turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore and contributed around 5.5 per cent of tax revenue, while 70 per cent came from those who had a turnover of Rs 100 crore, he said. In 2015 Infosys had won the seven-year Rs 1,380 crore contract of building, maintaining, and operating the network, which forms the backbone of the GST. The data is captured on a centralised IT system, which will help the government plug leakages and gather better insights into goods consumption in the country. Modi said the rise in exports in November owed itself partly to the stabilisation of the GSTN, adding that the matter of exporters not being able to get refunds had been sorted out.
Refunds for exporters were being processed, he said. In November, the GoM had pointed that there was a revenue shortfall of Rs 8,000-9,000 crore owing to the challenges in the system. However, after a review with state tax officials, it was identified the losses were also due to leakages on account of traders not declaring shipments between states as the check posts became redundant in the new regime. This was the primary reason that the introduction of the e-way bill was being advanced, Modi said. The National Informatics Centre (NIC), the government-run IT body, will implement the e-way Bill solution and offer it on trial on January 15. The NIC has implemented the e-way bill system in Karnataka, which had pioneered it five years ago to track vehicles that transported goods. A pilot for the e-way Bill was done in the state before the national roll-out, Modi said.