Hyderabad: There are just 10 days to go for the rollout of GST from July 1, but a majority of traders in the state are clueless about the way forward even after registering with the GST Network.
Out of about 1.5 lakh traders registered for GST, 80 per cent are small and medium range traders who still maintain paper records. Computer proficiency among them is much lower than among the big traders, and the latter can also afford tax experts to file online tax returns as required under GST norms.
Currently, out of every 100 shops with an annual turnover of more than Rs 20 lakh, which fall within the purview of GST, only four use a software for electronic book-keeping, posing a challenge for the smooth rollout of GST.
Poor internet connectivity in semi-urban and rural areas is yet another worry. There are 2.16 lakh VAT assessees in Telangana at present. Since the minimum annual turnover for VAT assessment was only Rs 7.5 lakh, the number of traders that came under its ambit was much larger than that under GST. The Rs 20 lakh a year turnover requirement to come under GST regime has meant that the number of assessees has fallen by a third to about 1.5 lakh.
Of this, some 90 per cent have registered for GST, the remaining have failed to do so despite the extension of deadline twice. Although the recent deadline ended on June 15, another window for registration opens on June 26.
Principal secretary of commercial taxes department Somesh Kumar said, “These are all teething troubles which will be overcome soon. The main focus for now is migration of all traders to GST. We have conducted over 150 awareness programmes for traders so far and cleared several of their doubts. Though the awareness levels are good in cities and urban areas, it is comparatively poor in semi-urban and rural areas.”
However, Mr Kumar said, traders have time to catch up on GST since the GST Council has given them two months grace time to file online returns.
“For those who don’t have computers or lack computer proficiency, we will assist them through GST Suvidha centres. Traders can access the services at the centres to file online returns,” he added.
But, traders in major markets in the city such as Begum Bazaar, Malakpet market, Monda market, etc., are worried over having to file dozens of returns and invoices, which must be prepared with specific fields and serial numbers under GST regime.
They say they are unaware of technology and have to hire technical staff to perform these duties, which will impose a burden on them.
“Our staff have been working with us for years and decades. They are old, it is not possible to train them in GST at this stage. We have to hire technical staff to perform GST-related duties, which will add to our expenses,” said B. Giridhar, representative of Begum Bazaar Traders’ Association.
However, Mr Kumar said traders falling in the Rs 20 to Rs 35 lakh annual turnover limit need to file returns only once in three months, which would mean they would file returns four times in an year.