Mitra suggests delaying GST rollout, says GSTN's preparedness 'alarming'

| Updated: Jun 04, 2017 03:15 IST

New Delhi [India], June 3 (ANI): West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Saturday said the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) can be delayed by a few days, owing to the unsatisfactory preparedness of the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN). Speaking to the media after the 15th meeting of the GST Council here, Mitra, while subtly mocking Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, said 'there is nothing sacrosanct about July 1'. "With changes being made constantly by the GST council, the GSTN is not able to cope with these. There is a large volume of transactions that need to be monitored. The matrix of weights for tax incidence was given only day before yesterday. The rollout can be delayed by a few days; there is nothing sacrosanct about July 1," he said. To back his stance, Mitra cited the example of the recent ransomware attack, which affected major servers globally. "The GST has not yet gone to its testing stage. We all know of how major servers were affected by ransomware. In the wake of this, the GSTN needs more time to prepare," he said. Mitra further added that the computers need to get acclimatised to handling 300 crore transactions a month, while the trial has been done only with around 200 major companies. However, Kerala's Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said although the level of preparedness is alarming, the GSTN can work along the way of implementation. Meanwhile, the GST council finalised the rates of the commodities that were excluded from the 14th meeting. Biscuits will be charged an 18 percent tax while a 12 percent tax has been levied on readymade garments. Also, cotton and textiles will be charged five percent under the new tax regime. The council decided to levy five percent on footwear below Rs. 500, and 18 percent on those above Rs. 500. To this regard, Mitra asserted that the significant reduction in footwear and textile will be highly beneficial to common man. Gold, gold jewellery, diamonds and silver will be charged three percent under the new tax regime. Geometric boxes, pencils and sports goods have also been fitted to the 12 percent slab, while solar panels have been included under the five percent tax slab. The council also fixed a 28 percent tax rate on beedi, adding that no cess is chargeable on the same. Pending items and agenda will be taken up for deliberation during the GST Council's 16th meeting, slated to be held on June 11. (ANI)