New Delhi, March 27, 2018

Current system is secure, with no cause for worry, says GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar

“The journey has been very tumultuous but satisfying,” says Prakash Kumar, CEO of Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), on the agency completing five years. Starting from a single room in the Finance Ministry in 2013, the GSTN, which provides the IT backbone to the country’s new indirect tax regime, today provides services to over 1.05 crore registered taxpayers on the portal and has handled over 8.32 crore returns. In an interview with BusinessLine, Kumar spoke about the upcoming plans of GSTN. Excerpts:

GSTN recently provided data to the GST Council using data analytics...

That’s at a very preliminary stage. Data analytics is actually part of our third phase. But we compiled some data given in GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B as well as in GSTR-3B and input tax credit, and showed it to the GST Council. They have asked us to dig a little deeper. We are still working on other areas where we can use data analytics but we plan to get a new partner for fraud analysis. That will take about five months as it will require tax data for at least one year.

By when can we expect the new GST monthly returns process to be finalised?

The Group of Ministers is looking into it. Once they finalise the recommendations, we at GSTN have to examine how much change is required; only then we can estimate the time required to develop, test and deliver the software. Currently, there is a three-month extension that allows users to use the simplified forms, so let’s see.

Amidst talks of so much data breach, how secure is the taxpayer’s data with GSTN?

We are taking care of data security while designing the system — how do we take it, where do we store it, who has access to it and who can modify it. None of us at GSTN have any access to the data. Our principle is that the only people who can see the data are the taxpayers and the concerned tax officials. Also, the data comes to us authenticated as we have introduced a digital signature certificate (DSC) for tax payers under GST. The data comes in an encrypted format and we also store it in an encrypted form. We have our own data centres that we have hired form Tatas and Airtel. But, at the same time, let me also say that no one in this world can claim that their system is 100 per cent secure.

How has it been, working with Infosys?

We have been very particular about documentation from the start. Documentation has to be there, so that tomorrow everything is in place for any third party audit. Otherwise there is always a fight between the owner and the contractor — whether you are getting your house built or software developed. That’s why we need experts from our side also who can talk to them. I also have a full team and a third party professional testing team for user acceptance test. But we are joined at the hip and we have been working well together.

[The Hindu Business Line]