Making India Digital

“Today, technology is advancing citizen empowerment and democracy that once drew their strength from Constitutions. Technology is forcing governments to deal with massive volume of data and generate responses, not in 24 hours but in 24 minutes.

We will transform governance, making it more transparent, accountable, accessible and participative. I spoke of E-Governance as a foundation of better governance – efficient, economical and effective.”

Narendra Modi has a dream. He wants to make India digital. His speech at the Digital India dinner at Silicon Valley in September 2015 revealed his plans and intentions to inculcate technology in governance. Goods and Services Tax is almost tangible now. Even though the government is willing to consider a September roll-out, it is likely that the July 1st roll-out is final. The crucial bills have been passed and even the states have begun clearing the bill in the respective State Assemblies. The rates and classification of goods and services under the different tax slabs will be done when the GST Council meets in Srinagar on May 16th and 17th. Now, the major hurdle that remains is its implementation.

The new taxation regime is going to be tech based and the companies will have to bring their existing technologies up to date to comply with the same. The registrations are a fairly straightforward process and yet a considerable number of people are pulling their hair in frustration. When the time comes for the returns fillings, there will be multiple tax forms that companies will have to fill. The entities will have to go through the tedious process of filing up to 37 forms annually – three monthly returns and an annual return. Furthermore, companies having operations in multiple states will have to file as many returns. For instance, if company A has operations in 10 states, the returns to be filled in one state would be 37 and in all the ten states, 370.

 Not every company or business might be technologically ready to comply with this. Even if the entity has the required software to adhere to the requirements, many areas have connectivity issues. A loss of data connection or even a fluctuating internet would cause interruptions in the filing process. There are hundreds of small traders who do not have access to appropriate infrastructural facility. Also, small traders and service providers hailing from villages or backward areas might not be educated enough to follow the instructions. They will have to depend on professionals who have acquired expertise in the returns filling procedure under GST. This will increase the compliance cost and in turn will reflect in their final prices.

Making India digital is not going to be an easy quest.