NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the country’s top bureaucrats on Wednesday to “handhold” traders in a bid to resolve their problems relating to the goods and services tax (GST).
Chairing the monthly interaction with officials, known as Pragati, Modi said chief secretaries should use the district administration to enable small traders to access and adopt the new system.
“The Prime Minister said while traders across the country are positive and are accepting this new taxation arrangement, they need handholding so that their problems can be resolved,” an official statement said.
The PM reiterated that small businesses must register with the GST Network to take advantage of business opportunities.
He said the common man and the trader must benefit from this path-breaking decision. The government is under attack from businesses over the rollout of GST, with several small traders finding the compliance requirement cumbersome.
What has complicated matters is that the IT backbone, GST Network, is facing trouble, with the portal crashing close to the return-filing deadline. Modi has instructed his team to work out an easier filing mechanism for small businesses whose annual turnover is less than the Rs 20-lakh threshold, but that will take some time.
The difficulty in compliance is seen to be one of the reasons for the 3.6% decline in GST collections during August, which were estimated at a little over Rs 90,000 crore compared to more than Rs 94,000 crore in July. Several traders and businesses are yet to file their returns, which are still trickling in.
While reviewing projects, Modi also said while many central government departments are now using Government e-Marketplace (GeM), only 10 states have so far shown keenness in using it.
“The PM said that GeM increases the pace of procurement and boosts transparency, besides supporting enterprise at the local level. He urged all chief secretaries to explore its use to the extent possible, to minimise leakages and delays,” the PMO said.