THE FIRST day of registration of traders under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Sunday saw almost no turnout at the helpdesks set up to assist traders in the process. The GST Network (GSTN) portal opened on Sunday for fresh registrations. Apart from e-commerce operators and TDS deductors, the portal will also allow existing excise, service tax and VAT assessees to migrate to the GSTN portal. Both online and offline modes are available and helpdesks have been set up to assist traders in the process.
Kiosks were set up at two places in the city — the Bandra Kurla Complex office of the Sales Tax department and its headquarters at Mazgaon — but not a single registration was recorded at either of the places, according to officials. All the nine kiosks on the first floor of the Sales Tax office in BKC wore a deserted look throughout the day. Expecting more turnout at the suburban office, more number of kiosks have been set up at the BKC office, a senior official told The Indian Express. However, he said the turnout on day one was poor owing to the heavy rain as well as the Eid holidays.
“It is a Sunday followed by Eid — another holiday. Moreover, it is raining heavily. These could be the reasons behind the low turnout,” he said. Officials are expecting the footfall to rise Tuesday onwards. Sale Tax Commissioner Rajeev Jalota, too, agreed. “Once the footfall grows after Tuesday, we expect to get a clear picture on which areas need more assistance and we will increase the number of kiosks,” said Jalota, adding that the window will be open for a 30-day period.
“There is time for people to register. We have urged traders to avoid an early rush,” he said. The registrations have opened amid ambiguity over the textile merchants’ reaction to GST. Two weeks ago, textile traders had staged a nationwide strike for being brought under the GST net. The small and medium fabric traders were exempt from paying duty but now a five per cent rate has been levied much to the disappointment of the traders. Hasmukh Shah, a fabric trader from Crawford Market, said a strike had been called on Tuesday.
“We are not against GST. However, we want exemption from the five percent slab,” said Shah, adding that most traders will register post the strike. The transition to GST has also left many traders in confusion. Mukesh Ganeshmal Sanghvi, vice-president of the Maharashtra State Jewellers’ and Goldsmiths’ Federation, said awareness about the registration process was low.
“There are many traders who are not aware about the reopening of the registration desks. Several messages explaining GST are doing the rounds on social media platforms but there is no clarity on the tax itself and how it affects us,” said Sanghvi, adding that the government must provide hand-holding support to traders for making the transition. Around 165 helpdesks have been set up across the state.
The numbers could increase depending on the response. The trained officials will help traders generate a temporary registration number (TRN) valid for 15 days during which the trader has to fill the forms online and upload documents. Only upon completion of all the forms within the stipulated time will lead to successful registration. If not completed within 15 days, the TRN will lapse and the trader will not be able to register the PAN card number again.