In the backdrop of the GST Network (GSTN), which is providing the IT backbone in roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST), easing the criteria for firms applying to become GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs), 160 firms including a number of start-ups and smaller companies have evinced interest to offer the services to taxpayers for compliance with the indirect tax regime.
The list of applicants released by GSTN includes names such as Flipkart, Clear-Tax and Zopper. Other major IT/ITeS firms such as Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Zoho Corporation, 3i Infotech, have also applied to become GSPs, along with other companies like HDFC Bank, and state-owned firms like Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and CSC e-Governance Services.
GSTN opened second phase of appointing GSPs earlier this month by inviting applications. In the first phase, it had selected 34 firms, including Tata Consultancy Services, Deloitte, EY, Reliance Corporate IT Park, PwC, Tally Solutions, among others. For the second phase, GSTN reduced the eligibility criteria for the applicants pertaining to paid-up capital and turnover, thus allowing smaller firms to apply to become GSPs. These service providers will be responsible for facilitating the tax payers in uploading invoices as well as filing of returns by acting as a one-stop shop for GST related services.
“We have got 160 applications, we are going through all the documents that they have provided. After that, we will be inviting them for demo… to see the solution they have…whether they have the technical capability to do it or not,” said Prakash Kumar, CEO, GSTN, told reporters here on Monday.
GSTN brought in the concept of Suvidha Providers to ensure that large taxpayers who would be filing lakhs of invoices every day do not face logistical issues on the GSTN portal while doing so. In a recent interview with The Indian Express, GSTN Chairman Navin Kumar said: “ For smaller taxpayers, maybe they have to enter 100 or 200 invoices, but if you have invoices running into thousands, that may not be possible to do that on the portal itself.
“So we thought we should involve companies that are already providing similar services. They can have other services also. Our portal is supposed to cater to 80 lakh taxpayers, they can also have a portal that will cater to maybe 5,000 or 10,000 taxpayers. Supposing that we have 30,40 or hundreds such GSPs (GST Suvidha Providers), then our load will also be distributed.”
For the 160 firms that have applied to become GSPs in the latest batch of selection, GSTN has not detailed any timeline as to when they would be finalised. Prakash Kumar said on Monday said that the priority now was to provide a stable IT backbone when GST is implemented. While the GSPs would be free to decide their own charges for the services offered, GSTN has said that to be competitive, GSPs would have “to be pragmatic in their pricing”.