Finance Minister sets operational target for businesses to migrate to GST

Setting immediate operational target to achieve cent percent registration of businesses under GST, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb Drabu, today directed the district administrations to work towards successful implementation of the new tax regime in J&K which will be beneficial for the consumers.

          “The biggest deterrent in the implementation of GST was the apprehension within the business community about erosion of state’s fiscal autonomy which has been taken care of. Now, the Government functionaries at District Level must take traders, businessmen, small scale industries and consumers on board for smooth transition from VAT to GST regime,” Dr Drabu said.

          The meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary B B Vyas, Principal Secretary Home, RK Goyal and Commissioner Secretary Finance, Navin Chowdhary. Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir Divisions along with the DDCs of all districts besides other senior officers attended the meeting through video-conferencing.

The Finance Minister said all stakeholders should register for GST which is not just a tax number but “business identification number” that will strengthen the trade and establish them within their respective sectors, market places and consumers.

          Asking the district administrations to achieve these targets by mid August, the Minister called for mobilizing forces to orient traders and consumers about the benefits of GST besides addressing their apprehensions.

          “The district administrations must organize regular awareness camps, orientation programmes and also identify major points of concern prevailing in their respective areas and address them. Besides, major concerns can be brought into the notice of Finance Secretary or Chief Secretary for further deliberations,” he said.

          The Finance Minister said J&K is in a phase of transition from VAT to GST which will take six to eight months to stabilize, “Use TV, radio, newspapers and social media to clarify misconception regarding GST and put out as much information in the public domain as possible for the benefit of consumers and traders,” he said.

          Responding to the concerns of the traders regarding lack of technically-proficient people in the districts, the Minister said the GST is based on a self assessment model under which only five percent of total businesses can be audited, “GST is not an audit-based model but assessment based. Therefore there is a greater need for advisors than auditors,” he said.

          The Minister said one of the biggest apprehension regarding GST is that a person needs to file three returns in a month. “In reality, a trader only needs to file one return in a month with other two being auto generated by the system. Also, traders do not need 24X7 internet access to file their returns. Internet access of 10 minutes in a month is sufficient to upload concerned documents as required under the GST regime,” he said.

          The Minister called for conducting surveys of all industries in each district, especially those that were not covered under the earlier tax regime like textile, sugar and other informal sectors. “Divisional Commissioners must submit weekly report, detailing status of registrations in their respective divisions, besides taking note of other concerns that might emerge during on-ground implementation,” he said.

The Minister said the State Government has proposed use of Khidmat Centres as GST updating centres to supplement local traders and simplify the transition to GST for them. “Special capsule courses will be introduced to train necessary work force and provide them facilities at Khidmat Centres. With this, cost control measures can also be employed so as to ensure no exploitation of small traders happens because of the technical demand as part of the GST,” he said.

          Dr Drabu said the Government is exploring avenues to supplement the existing levels of connectivity and innovative techniques will be employed for areas like Kargil and Gurez to ensure wider connectivity across the state for assisting businesses while filing their returns.

          Responding to the concerns of trade community regarding existing stocks and request for availability of input tax credit on existing stock, the Finance Minister said the Government is exploring ways to address their issue. “Commercial Tax Department will be organizing special workshops and dissemination of information sessions in each district to equip the people with knowhow of the new accounting procedures as part of the regime,” he said.

          Dr Drabu said every DDO of each government department must get registered for GST at the earliest because GST will be charged at source which will also reduce corruption. “Lakhanpur will no longer be a revenue consideration for finance department but it will be protection mechanism of domestic industry,” he said.

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