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How companies are getting ready for India's biggest tax reform
June, 30th 2017

Intensive training programmes, task forces, workshops and getting software ready — some of the ways in which companies in India have been preparing for the goods and services tax, just hours away from rollout.

The company is GST ready in terms of invoicing, billing and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and has also invested a lot of effort in training all distributors.

“We expect to consolidate our C&FA (clearing and forwarding agent) footprint and reduce the number of C&FAs by around 15%,” said Managing Director Vivek Gambhir. Godrej Consumer sells GoodKnight and Cinthol.

“Manufacturers should keep in mind that GST compliance for wholesalers might be more challenging than direct trade, making it important to support them to ensure that the trade pipeline remains at healthy levels. Similarly, organised trade channels like ecommerce and modern trade should continue to be backed.

Learnings from demonetisation suggest derisking the total channel play by planning for higher throughput through multiple channels,” said Prasun Basu, president, Nielsen South Asia.

Several teams across functions have been working on a war footing for the past few weeks to ensure Bharti Airtel is ready to make the transition to GST by midnight, said a senior company executive. They are currently engaged in ensuring the GST registration process is complete and the company's IT, billing and accounting systems are suitably rejigged to migrate to GST on schedule.

Jio, he said, has closely worked with service providers, vendors, distributors and all ecosystem partners to ensure smooth and easy data flow of GST using various input mechanisms, including the application program interface (API)-based seamless integration with accounting and billing software across functions.”

An application program interface (API) is a code that allows two software programmes to communicate with each other.

Director General Rajan Mathews said “all operators have been working in all earnest to comply with the July 1deadline, but are faced with genuine challenges, primarily IT compatibility and circle alignment, going forward”.

Mathews has urged the government to align telecom circles with state boundaries and also provide for centralised assessment mechanisms under GST.

COAI represents all GSM telcos in India, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Sunil Sayal, CFO-India market, Nokia, said the multitude of last-minute GST-related guidelines and clarifications coming in from the government side were throwing up implementation challenges for global network vendors like Nokia.

“There are plenty of guidelines and clarifications still coming through from the government, which are posing some last minute challenges which can impact Day-1 GST readiness. For example, the recent guideline on Harmonized System of Nomenclature (HSN), which mandates companies to quote four digits of the HSN (code) instead of the standard eight digits. This will require corresponding changes in the system before July 1,” Sayal told ET.

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