Digital systems help MSMEs reduce compliance burden
GSTN CEO says 8 software firms have been roped in to provide free accounting, billing software to MSMEs
On the occasion of GST completing two years of implementation, Prakash Kumar, CEO of Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), in an email interview with Jayarama Emani talks about how the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) has partnered with 8 software companies for providing billing and accounting software without any cost to the MSMEs (who have an annual turnover under Rs 1.5 crore in a financial year) and the roadmap ahead for GSTN
What is the motive behind GSTN partnering with eight software companies for providing billing and accounting software without any cost?
This is a step towards providing help to MSMEs to move towards digital system so that their efficiency can be improved, and their compliance burden can be reduced.
Such taxpayers are nearly 80 per cent in number under GST regime and thus this step is going to benefit a large number of taxpayers.
GSTN on directions of GST Council has identified eight vendors to provide the Accounting and Billing Software without any cost to such taxpayers.
Are there any hidden costs involved for using these softwares?
No, there are no hidden costs on downloading and using the software available at the GST portal. It may be noted that the software offers basic features that would be provided free.
The software can help to create invoices, manage inventory, create account statements, and prepare GST returns etc. The software provider could provide additional feature like Bank reconciliation, account receivable etc. at a cost.
If the user wants to have additional features/ services of the downloaded software, the user will have to contact the respective software provider for an upgrade. GSTN has no intervention on any such request.
From when are these softwares available on the GSTN website?
The link to these softwares has been made available under 'download' tab on the official GST portal www.gst.gov.in after logging in.
Can you provide us any statistics as to how successful are these softwares in helping the MSMEs?
"The software is available in both versions – cloud based and downloadable, which could be installed on any desktop or laptop.
The taxpayer has a choice of eight products to choose from. The taxpayer may choose any, depending on user's choice or preference.
So far, over 1,95,000 users have opted for the software from the GST portal."
Is the use of these softwares limited to MSMEs only?
This facility is made available to the active normal taxpayers, composition taxpayers etc. registered on the GST portal, across all the States/UTs whose annual turnover is less than Rs 1.5 crore in a financial year.
What kind of support did these software(s) get from GSTN to get hosted on the Website?
The entire initiative of making this software available to the small taxpayers was of GSTN, under the guidelines of GST Council.
The vendor companies' website has been linked to the dedicated section on the GST Portal from where the user can download the desired software of his/her choice or get registered in case of cloud-based accounting and billing software.
With GST completing two years of implementation, how far do you think this software(s) will help the cause of customers going forward?
The idea behind this initiative is to help SME taxpayers so that they can automate their day-to-day functioning and compliance under the tax laws.
Some of the features being made available by all the vendors in the free version are sale/ purchase/ cash bank ledger, inventory management, supplier/ customer masters, generation of invoices, preparation of GST returns, generation of reports, prints invoices and ledger, payment reports, etc.
You have been a strong advocate of RTI and authored three books on the same. Can you give us some insight into your writings?
The first book was written keeping in view requirement of citizen on how to seek information and how to use the same.
The other two books were for the officers of the department handling RTI.
What trends do you foresee vis-à-vis GST in the coming 1-3 years time?
Our attempt will be to make filing and compliance easier and more convenient by providing better tools and improving experience of users on GST portal.