Government to take GSTN control from private entities

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NEW DELHI: India could soon unveil a plan to turn Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), the information technology backbone of the indirect tax regime, into a fully or majority state-owned agency by buying out the stakes of private entities that currently hold a 51% stake. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has asked finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia to examine the possibility, said a senior government official. GSTN is a non-government, non-profit company in which Housing Development Finance ther hold a 51% stake. The remaining 49%is held by the Centre and state governments equally.

“States and the Centre will continue to have equal stake,” the official said, adding that the government has informally discussed the move with the private sector shareholders. Final Proposal to go to GST Council The proposal will be taken to the GST Council after it is finalised and then to cabinet, he said. Since GSTN is a not-forprofit entity, the stakes will be bought back at the original price without any premium, he said.

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The official said GSTN had been incorporated as a private company as it was felt at the time that, given the tight deadline, private sector participation was needed to ensure that the structure was adequately flexible and that the agency had freedom of operation. GST, which replaced multiple state and central taxes with a single levy, was rolled out across the nation on July 1 last year.

With the GST portal stabilising and the formal implementation of the e-way bill system on April 1, it is now felt that time may be ripe for ownership change. GSTN was subject to widespread criticism soon after the rollout when the portal crashed several times and businesses faced difficulty in filing returns. The filing of returns has had to be postponed several times due to persistent glitches in the system.


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