The Goods and Services Tax Council on Friday gave its nod to convert GST Network, the information technology backbone of the new indirect tax system, into a government-owned company after concerns were raised about the security of taxpayers’ data on the portal. The Council allowed the Centre and states to acquire the entire 51 per cent equity, worth Rs 50.1 million, held by non-governmental institutions in the GSTN. The finance ministry said a majority of the GST processes, including registration, filing of returns, payment of taxes, processing of refunds, were IT-driven, and the GSTN was handling large-scale invoice data of millions of entities. “Considering the nature of ‘state’ functions performed by the GSTN, the Council felt the GSTN be converted into a fully-owned government firm,” the ministry said.
The Centre will own 50 per cent of the GSTN, while the remaining 50 per cent will be collectively held by states. Currently, five private institutions - HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, NSE Strategic Investment Co, and LIC Housing Finance Ltd - together hold 51 per cent in the GSTN. The remaining 49 per cent stake is with the Centre and states.
The GSTN board will be allowed to continue with the current staff at existing terms and conditions for a period of up to five years.
The existing financial commitments given by the Centre and states to the GSTN to share the capital and O&M costs of the IT systems will continue.