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Government to set up ‘war room’ at Finance Ministry to deal with GST issues

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NEW DELHI: With days to go before India launches its biggest tax reform in decades on July 1, the government is trying to ensure that doubts arising over the goods and services tax get answered in real time as much as possible.

“A special war room has been created… This will address issues, if they crop up, in implementation,” said a senior government official. It will operate from eight in the morning to 10 in the evening, providing a single window for the resolution of any GST-related issue.

The GST Feedback and Action Room set up by the Central Board of Excise and Customs is keeping a close watch to ensure all processes are in place for a smooth rollout, a CBEC official told ET. The war room has been kitted out with state-of-the-art communications equipment with experts on hand to ensure that any technology-related concerns are also addressed.
Government to set up 'war room' at Finance Ministry to deal with GST issues

The war room is a key element in the government’s GST launch effort that’s being backed up by an army of officials in the field and in ministries and departments. Every ministry and department has created GST cells dedicated to the sectors they deal with.

The customs department has begun dry runs at ports. Exporters and traders will start filing bills of entry and shipping in the new format aligned with the GST framework starting Wednesday.

CBEC, the apex indirect taxes body, has directed field formations to be alive to any issue that industry, particularly small businesses, may be confronting. They have also been asked to expect and respond to those who walk into their offices seeking clarification.

The GST Council has already allowed a relaxation of two months in filing returns.

CBEC is meanwhile keeping a close watch on the migration of existing taxpayers to the GST Network that began on June 25. Most of this process is over with the rest expected to register this week.

Field officials have been directed to assist taxpayers and businesses not just with migration but also if they need clarifications with regard to aspects of the tax or its implementation.

Barring Jammu & Kashmir, all states have the legislative framework in place for implementation of GST.

GST seeks to replace multiple state taxes such as value-added tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax and central taxes including central excise duty, countervailing duty, service tax and a number of cesses by a single levy to create a seamless national market. The move is expected to increase efficiency and boost growth.

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