GST law is by no means a simple tax law ('simple tax' is of course an oxymoron). Additionally, the GST Rule set (14 Rules) provide for detailed documentation requirements. Apart from taming the elephant in the room , read 'managing mismatches of input credits', configuring ERPs to multiple rates, State level GSTINs, different types of reverse charges, TDS and TCSBSE 0.68 %, applicable GST on job work and advances is going to keep India Inc. on its toes. As it evolves, one can expect frequent updates and amendments in the GST law, particularly in the first year of its implementation.
With the countdown underway, and the Government having more or less done its job, its India Inc. that now needs to keep its foot on the peddle. Forewarned is forearmed, and so detailed below five key critical actions for GST readiness - these should essentially lessen the margin of error as on July 1, 2017.
Transition planning It is imperative for India Inc. to map admissibility of eligible credit (input and capital goods) prior to the date of transition and accurately report existing credit balances in the Trans returns. Another one, would be to keep track of all pending invoices which would be received as well as issued prior and post GST roll-out including the ones in-transit, so that there is complete insight on transactions which may attract levy of GST. Collect all the pending forms under the CST law to avoid delay in availing transitional VAT input credit
For inventory lying across the supply chain networks and which is not backed by excise invoices, look at multiple options - availing first stage dealer registration, liquidating inventory, particularly that over one year old or at the minimum work out the credit loss, if any on account of 40-60% CGST input credit available .
Information Technology systems (ERPs) configuration and adaptability to the GST law is need of the hour. To the extent GST compliant invoices, purchase/sale order generation as well as booking and recording of correct taxes is sustained by ERPs on the date of GST implementation, a significant impediment would be overturned during the course of transition to GST. Also updating chart of accounts and system masters would ensure correct data being captured and reported from GST stand point. Appropriate dashboards and work flows could significantly reduce the commotion specifically on credit mismatch and reconciliation issues.
Pricing strategy Detailed financial impact working for deciding the go to market strategy in terms of reduced or higher pricing is quite imperative. Benefits, if any, extended by the suppliers on account of increased credit flows coupled with efficiencies due to re-structuring of supply chain could be key drivers in determining the optimum pricing models.
With specific clause on 'Anti-Profiteering' in GST, India Inc. needs to ensure that benefits on account of reduced rates or enlarged credits are passed to customers.
Focus on business network partnership A smooth compliance environment under GST with no incremental tax fall outs require end to end collaboration and partnership with suppliers as well as customers. The contractual terms, not only with customers and suppliers need to be revisited in line with GST requirements. Open contracts re-negotiated taking into account specific clauses pertaining to price, tax and change in laws.
Cross-functional training Last but not the least, regular training sessions for key stakeholders in finance, procurement, logistics and marketing department would enable India Inc. maneuver seamlessly through the GST regime.