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GST switchover: Sale tax barriers to stay on for now in Punjab

As Punjab braces up for ushering in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), it was decided on Thursday that the sales tax barriers in the state would remain in place until the online 'e-way' system becomes fully operational. Talking to TOI, excise and taxation director (investigation) Navdeep Kaur Bhinder, said, "The sale tax barriers will continue for the time being. But these will be phased out once the online e-way system becomes operational. Meanwhile, the mobile wings will be strengthened once the barriers go." Excise and taxation commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh added that eventually the sale tax barriers will go under the GST system. It would be a hectic weekend for the department to monitor smooth transition from the value added tax (VAT) to the GST in the state. On Thursday, the department constituted a team of its officials to focus on the six excise divisions in the state on Saturday and Sunday. A GST helpline is also being launched. However, there is still no clarity about how long it could take for the new system to become fully functional in the state. Presently there are over 40 sale tax barriers, which are called information collection centres. As per the plan, under the GST system, the department would focus on mobile wings and their numbers will go up. Sources said due to technical glitches in e-way system, the sale tax barrier system, which was to end from July 1, would continue for some time. Traders in the state too are anxious about the new tax regime. Narotam Dev Ratti, former chairman, Punjab Trader Board, said the small traders who were not covered under VAT till now are the ones who will take time to come to terms with the new system. "The online system has not been launched and there is lack of clarity on certain issues such as fate of traders who have already paid VAT. For instance, items like rice are exempt under the GST but there could be traders who would have paid VAT for trading in it as a single commodity. Will they get a refund? These are some grey areas," he said. Traders are also apprehensive about compliance as small and petty traders in the state may find difficult to meet the documentation and other statutory requirements for the GST. E-way bill is an electronic way bill for movement of goods which can be generated on the GSTN (common portal). The 'movement' of goods valuing more than Rs 50,000, cannot take place without an e-way bill. GST teething troubles - 40-odd sale tax barriers to continue for time being - Online e-way system likely to miss deadline - Excise and taxation department constitutes team for weekend monitoring - Small traders still grappling with grey areas in taxation policy - Punjab yet to make formal communications about the switch over

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