The government’s massive network of Common Service Centres (CSCs), or digital kiosks, have been identified to facilitate the rollout of Goods and Services Tax (GST), especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
Out of the total 2,52,000 CSCs that are operational, around 1,72,000 are in the rural areas. These centres will help merchants in filing taxes under the new regime and also provide necessary training and support services to people. The proposal is close to getting a final approval from the government.
Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, CEO, CSC e-Governance Services, told that the centres are proposed to act as a GST Suvidha Provider. They will also train and support merchants.
“The agency will have its own portal where all the details will be filled up which will be synced with the main portal of the GST,” he said. It will act as a “mirror portal” of the GST portal, he added.
The entrepreneurs training will be completed by June 15 and the system will be in place before the GST rollout. The services offered by the centres will not be free. Tyagi said the agency is in the process of working out a commission model which will be as competitive as those offered by other service providers.
“GST will act as a major pull factor for the CSCs, enhancing their credibility further,” he said. The wide CSC network, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas, will give a major boost to the ambitious GST rollout since it requires a lot of ground-level support, he added. “I don’t think many service providers will be active in rural India, rural India will be ours,” he said.
Around 34 companies, from accounting firms such as EY and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, to software companies such as IRIS Business Services and Tally Solutions, have been appointed as GSTN Suvidha Providers (GSP), which means that they can directly connect to the application programming interface (APIs) of the GST Network.
There are also several independent application developers and startups like ClearTax and Moglix as well as multinationals like Intuit vying to be application service providers (ASPs) to the GSPs. The ASP innovations can be part of the GSPs' offerings when they open up their secure APIs.