The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved ‘Project SAKSHAM’, a New Indirect Tax Network (Systems Integration) of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
The total project cost involved is Rs.2256 crore which will be incurred over a period of seven years.
It will help in: a) implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST); b) extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and ; c) other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and Ease of Doing Business of Central Board of Excise and Customs.
The implementation strategy for the project will be to ensure readiness of CBEC's IT systems by April, 1, 2017, when GST is to be introduced. The upgrade of the IT systems will be carried out while keeping the existing Tax-payer services running.
With the implementation of GST, the Union government expects the number of taxpayers under indirect tax laws to increase to about 65 lakh from the current 36 lakh. CBEC’s IT systems need to integrate with the GSTN for processing of registration, payment and returns data sent by GSTN systems to CBEC.
It will also act as a front-end for other modules like audit, appeal and investigation. However, there is no overlap in the GST-related systems of GSTN and CBEC.
IT infrastructure is also required for continuation of CBEC’s e-services in customs, central excise and service tax, implementation of taxpayer services, extension of SWIFT initiative and integration with government initiatives such as e-Taal, e-Nivesh and e-Sign.
Introduction of GST will result in a several-fold increase in the number of taxpayers and resultant document load on the system.
CBEC's current IT system was set up in 2008. It cannot cater to the increased load under GST without an immediate upgrade of its IT Infrastructure. Further, CBEC has implemented the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and is integrating other partner agencies involved in Customs clearance in order to make the process simple and fast.
The Customs EDI system which is currently operational at about 140 locations in India has to be extended to many more locations with improved response time and better service delivery. Taxpayers have to be given a facility for Upload of Digitally Signed Scanned Documents in order to reduce the physical interface with tax authorities and to increase the speed of clearance.
CBEC also aims to introduce mobile services for taxpayers and departmental users to increase the outreach of its services.