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Channel welcomes GST

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DQW Bureau
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During the Budget announcement, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed

ushering in of Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 2010. Unfortunately, lack

of information on the topic has got people making guesses on the nature of the

system that will be proposed.

What is GST?



It is essentially a value-added tax that is applicable on goods and

services. Once this comes into place all the other taxes will be done away with

such as central tax, state-level sales tax and octroi.

Not only will the initiative break the tax barrier that currently exists

between the different states in the country, it will also make the tax procedure

transparent since it will be collected at the point of sales and not at multiple

points. In the new order the channel partner will be responsible for collecting

the tax from end-consumers and handing over the GST to the government.


There are two types of GST-unified and dual. In the first model, central excise

duty, service tax and sales tax are merged together and collected as one single

tax. In dual GST, two kinds of taxes are applied on the taxable value of a

product or service-central goods and services tax (CGST) and state goods and

services tax (SGST).

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While no concrete plans have been announced on the nature of GST that will be

applicable in India, in all probability it will be the dual system to help both

central and state governments control their fiscal powers. Giving the legal

perspective on which situation would make better sense for India, Pavan Duggal,

Advocate, Supreme Court of India said, “Given the federal nature of the Indian

Republic and given a clear demarcation of respective legislative fields for the

center and the states in the form of Union, State and Concurrent Lists, it would

be legally correct for India to have a dual GST regime.”

Weighing the odds



Currently a channel partner pays an average of over 20 percent tax. Once the

GST comes into play this amount will reduce by a significant margin. However,

GST will be most beneficial for the software dealers as the current confusion

about double taxation will disappear.

“The introduction of GST will be good for the channel. It will plug in any

loopholes that are there with VAT and other taxes,” shared Arvind Modi of Jaipur-based

Bits&Bytes. But he also reflected that the system would encourage dealers to

make bulk purchases from metros. “As of now we buy our goods locally from the

sub-disti. But with GST cross border purchases would be encouraged. Dealers in

Delhi would give better prices so the channel in the smaller cities would prefer

to buy from the metros,” added Modi.

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When asked what he thought about the ushering in of GST Modi replied, “It is

not a big issue, we will follow it if it is implemented. It all depends on

whether the government is geared to implement it or not.” He added that as of

now it was too early to understand the modalities.

On the other hand, PN Prasad of Puducherry-based Microplus Computers, who is

also the President of Confed-ITA felt that GST would herald good tidings for the

channel. “Currently, I have to check within Puducherry for goods that I want to

purchase. Now the limit of the state will be removed. With GST we can take our

trade interstate and increase it. I can get competitive with big orders, so this

system will be good for those players who want to increase their reach,”

commented Prasad.

Agreeing with Prasad, Sanjay Langer of AGM Sales, Jammu saw the reform as an

opportunity for the channel as interstate purchasing would become easier. In

fact he thinks that the large national distributors might consider closing down

their warehouses in the region. Listing the negatives in the same breath he

said, “Four to five distis might end up offering the same productsand there will

also be the time factor in transporting the goods. But pros and cons are part

and parcel of a business.”

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According to Chetan Shah of Mumbai-based Xpress Computers, the GST system is

a welcome and long awaited tax reform. “Currently, tax payers undergo a lot of

hardships and costs to compute the different taxes payable such as CTS, VAT,

Octroi, customs duty, excise etc. The impact should surely be positive on the

channel,” he said.

Citing that prices may go up in some cases Shah added, “GST will be rebatable

at source paid, so it might not cause an increase in prices. In fact net prices

to buyers might be lower than before because of tax credit.”

Readying for change



The proposed date for GST to come into effect is April 2010. Though there

are many unanswered questions on whether it will finally be implemented and if

so what will be the nature and rate. There is a lot of back-end work that needs

to go into fixing the rate of GST, which is something the central and state

governments have to sit down and finalize.

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Talking about whether GST should be introduced or not, Modi shared, “If it's

in the interest of the country and helps then yes it should be done. The

government should not think short term. Ultimately what is good will continue.

Raj IT Forum is willing to organize online seminars on GST if we get experts to

talk on the topic.”

But whether the government will be able to meet its deadline is questionable.

“Different states are not cooperating with each other, and the central and state

governments cannot see eye to eye. I am sure the target will be missed and that

eventually it will come into being by 2011. No doubt once it does come into

being it will be great, a very positive step for the country. There will be less

corruption, smoother system and value for customers,” expressed Alok Gupta of

Delhi-based Softmart Solutions.

Shah, who felt that India actually needed a unified model stated, “I believe

that a unified GST model is ideal for India as we are a large country. A dual

model would mean complications for the government as well as assesses.” On how

the channel can prepare for the new tax Shah said, “Firstly they need to

understand the new reforms carefully; have a detailed meeting with their tax

consultants and have doubts clarified, if any; adapt their processes and educate

staff accordingly and finally, enforce the new procedure with due diligence and

care.”

V Krishnan, Secretary, Progressive Channels Association of IT (PCAIT) was

also of the view that a unified GST would be suitable for India. “It will be

better for all including the central and state administrations to have a unified

GST system that allows sharing of the revenue between the center and the states.

Associations like PCAIT and others should lobby for this,” he proposed.

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