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Still need few weeks for fully functional solution, say GST Suvidha Providers

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New Delhi, June 22: Hoping for a smooth ride for companies under the Goods and Services Tax regime, GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs) have said that the two-month extension was expected as software for filing tax returns or application progamme interfaces (APIs) would only be available by the end of June.

Once the APIs are available, it would take them a few weeks for testing the software.

“On the GSP front, we have initiated the audit process as per the agreement with Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), but the services will be available a few weeks later since it has to work in coordination with the GSTN roadmap,” Bharat Goenka, Managing Director of Tally Solutions, told IANS.

“GSTN has its roadmap for release of APIs and we continue to believe that time is too short for testing. We will be ensuring that we do not make hasty product releases in the market but only release robust solutions,” he said.

APIs are a set of tools on which the GSPs will develop applications for accounting software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), filing and billing that will help businesses comply with the new indirect tax regime.

The delay to release the APIs has been because the Rules were still in a fluid state and the GST Council approved five of them in its recent meeting on June 18. The five Rules approved relate to advance ruling, appeal and revision, assessment, fund settlement and anti-profiteering.

“The Rules remain fluid and also continue to have ambiguities which we hope and believe will get ironed out over time,” Goenka said.

Saket Agarwal, Global CEO of Spice Digital, said that over the last couple of weeks there have been quite a few changes. “For GSPs these have come up as a major deterrent in their preparedness. For us the focus has been on a scheme that will not only be scalable but also accommodate every change.”

He said that his GSP will be ready for the GST implementation in the coming month.

The Council has allowed businesses a relaxation of time for the first two months (July-August) for filing their returns. They would only need to submit a simple declaration initially, and would have time to furnish the exact “invoice-by-invoice data” in September.

“While there is definitely compliance relief, the testing of the APIs has been something that was a point of concern for all the GSPs. We are hopeful that the road towards filing of returns is not going to be bumpy one,” Agarwal said.

Some GSPs have already begun testing on the basis of Rules and fitment of goods available to them as of now.

Vinod Tambi, Co-founder and COO, Excellon Software, told IANS, “Whatever is available to us at this point in terms of GST Rules and taxes, we are already testing. We expect next set of data for finalisation of our system to test with.”

With the extension given by the government to file returns till September, there should be enough time to make the systems ready, he said.

Nishank Goyal, CEO, Masters India, said, “The extended time line for return filing will allow us to add more functionalities and features to the product.”

Sugal and Damani Utility Services, which operates under the brand name Payworld, said that the roll-out of GST will increase the compliance requirements manifold and the GSPs need to ensure scalability.

“When GST goes live, the compliance requirement is going to increase drastically. With the roll-out scheduled on time, as a GSP, our IT systems should be enabled to handle as many forms as we receive,” Praveen Dhabhai, COO of Payworld, said.

Along with GSPs, Application Service Providers (ASPs) have also said that they would need more time to prepare a fully functional solution.

While GSPs help businesses in uploading invoices and filing returns, ASPs actually help in converting the raw sales and purchase data of traders into GST returns.

“Our solution is not ready, we will need more time as the GSTN has to make more APIs available for a fully functional solution,” said Yogesh Huja, Founder of Freedom Desi.

“It is unfortunate that when July 1 was the deadline for filing returns, GSTN is releasing APIs on June 29. If the APIs were released on time there shouldn’t have been any requirement of extension,” he said. However, he felt that two months would give them enough time to ensure a leak-proof solution.

By Meghna Mittal

IANS

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Petrol, diesel prices remain unchanged at record high levels

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Retail fuel prices were unchanged on Sunday across the four metros. On Saturday, petrol and diesel touched fresh all-time high levels.

In the national capital, petrol was priced at Rs 85.70 per litre. In Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, petrol was sold at Rs 92.28, Rs 88.29 and Rs 87.11 per litre, respectively.

Although the pump prices of fuels were unchanged on Sunday, they have been elevated for long and have been touching new highs of late.

Global oil prices are above $55 per barrel currently. Crude prices have remained firm for the last couple of weeks in the wake of unilateral production cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and a pick up in the consumption in all major economies globally.

The last time the retail price of auto fuels were closer to current levels was on October 4, 2018 when crude prices had shot up to $80 a barrel.The current price rise is largely on account of steep increase in central taxes of petrol and diesel and firm crude prices.

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Fuel dearer again: Petrol prices up by 22-25 p/l, diesel by 24-26

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 Petrol and diesel prices rose sharply again on Saturday reaching new all-time highs as oil marketing companies (OMCs) decided to break the pause in revision of auto fuel prices to bridge the widening under recovery.

Accordingly, the pump price of petrol increased between 22-25 paisa per litre across all major metros on the day while diesel prices increased in the range of 24-26 paisa per litre.

With this, petrol is now priced at Rs 85.70/litre in Delhi as against Rs 85.45 a litre previously. Similarly, in Mumbai petrol prices increased to Rs 92.28 a litre, a 24 paisa increase from Friday’s price of Rs 92.04 a litre. In Chennai and Kolkata, petrol is now priced at Rs 88.29 and 87.11 a litre respectively, an increase of 22 and 24 paisa per litre from the previous day’s.

Diesel on the other hand faced sharper increase, rising by 26 paisa a litre in Mumbai from Friday’s level of Rs 82.40 a litre to Saturday’s retail price of Rs 82.66 a litre. In Delhi, diesel rose 25 paisa per litre to Rs 75.88 a litre; in Chennai by 24 paisa per litre to Rs 81.14 a litre and in Kolkata by 25 paisa per litre to Rs 79.48 a litre.

The increase in retail price of auto fuel came on a day when global crude prices showed some signs of softening declining by less than 1 per cent to close to $55 a barrel. Crude price have remained firm for last couple of weeks in the wake of unilateral production cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and a pick up in consumption in all major economies globally.

The increase petrol and diesel prices is fourth such revision this week. The auto fuels had risen sharply by 25 paisa per litre each on Monday and Tuesday before OMCs decided to give relief to consumers from frequent price rise for last two days.

With Saturday’s revision, the pump price of petrol and diesel has now increased by Rs 1.99 and Rs 2.01 per litre, respectively in January so far with OMCs deciding to break an earlier longer period of pause increasing the retail prices first time this year on January 6. The price had been raised on six different days since then.

The last few increases in pump prices in petrol and diesel has taken its price to record levels across the country in all major metro cities and other towns. The last time the retail price of auto fuels were closer to current levels was on October 4, 2018 when crude prices had shot up to $80 a barrel.

The current price rise is largely on account of steep increase in central taxes of petrol and diesel and firm crude prices.

Petrol price was very close to breaching the all-time high level of Rs 84 a litre (reached on October 4, 2018) when it touched Rs 83.71 a litre on December 7, 2020. But the march had been halted ever since then with no price revision by the OMCs in the month. The price rise started again only on January 6.

Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.

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IndiGo to start Agra-Bengaluru flight from March

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As part of its strategy to bolster its regional connectivity, IndiGo has announced Agra as its 64th domestic destination. The airline will connect Agra to Bengaluru and Bhopal through direct flights under the RCS scheme from March 28.

A weekly flight to Goa is also likely to start early February, sources said.The bookings are open with one-way fares starting at Rs 2,523 for Bhopal and Rs 3,789 for Bengaluru.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to have the Golden Triangle cities mapped on the 6E network, with the addition of Agra as our 64th domestic destination.

This will not only enhance connectivity for domestic travellers, but also aid in expanding international air traffic once restrictions are lifted and travel opens up.

Additionally, these connections will help promote tourism, trade and commerce, with Agra being home to multiple UNESCO world heritage sites, one of the hubs for leather goods production and known for its food and delicacies.”

The Agra tourism industry is upbeat as it expects a big inflow of tourists, both domestic and foreign, in the coming days. The industry had long been demanding air connectivity from Agra to major destinations in India. A lone flight to Jaipur was also halted some months ago.

The last 10 months saw a major setback to tourism, with the footfall of foreign tourists falling to just one per cent. The Taj Mahal and other monuments remained closed due to Covid-19 for over six months.

With restrictions now removed, the flow of visitors has increased and the hospitality industry is hoping to make good in the coming months. The daily evening cultural show at the Kalakriti Auditorium – Mohabbat the Taj – has resumed, as weekend crowds have begun thronging Agra again.

The inter-state buses have also begun operations, particularly to Delhi, from Monday, bringing relief to thousands of commuters heading for Palwal, Faridabad, Gurugram and other neighbouring areas.

Welcoming the announcement by IndiGo to start daily flights from Agra to Bangalore, Bhopal and Lucknow, Sunil Gupta, chairman IATO, northern region said “Tourists were hesitant to visit Agra as there are no flights which are usually considered very safe during the pandemic. We are hoping the number of visitors will now increase. We have demanded international flights also from Agra.”

Vice president of the Tourism Guild, Rajiv Saxena said “the flights will be very helpful and boost tourism in Agra. For the tourists, it will be such a big help as travel time would be reduced.”

Before the pandemic, Agra was annually visited by more than seven million tourists. “With three World Heritage monuments, and a number of other tourist attractions, plus Mathura and Vrindavan close by, Agra badly needed air connectivity.

But due to pressure from the Delhi lobby of hoteliers and travel agents, all kinds of hurdles were being created, but now the Modi government has taken a huge initiative which should see a turnaround in the fortunes of the hospitality industry in Agra,” said founder president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association, Surendra Sharma.

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