File taxes online: GST launch spawns tech cottage industry for compliance

Goods and Services Tax (GST), India’s biggest tax reform since independence, will unify a $2 trillion economy into a single market – and demand massive changes for small businesses that will have to go online to file their taxes.

Major software and service players, IT companies and tax advisers are teaming up to market GST compliance products to firms large and small.

But the new requirements have also led to the emergence of boutique players offering to help firms connect to the new GST Network, the vast IT back-end system that will crunch up to 5 billion invoices a month.


Rahul Garg, a former Google executive, is positioning his e-commerce firm Moglix for the GST’s launch on July 1 when, at a stroke, at least 6 million companies will have to start filing taxes returns online.

Moglix, founded in August 2015 with $5.9 million in venture capital, is a marketplace for industrial equipment that links 200 large manufacturers and 40,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs. Garg will offer a GST compliance product to this ecosystem for free but also sees a wider opportunity.

“We’ll put it out as a commercial model that will be a no-brainer for all SMEs,” said Garg.

While a public-private partnership will run the GST Network, the design of the tax is creating a new class of businesses that enables firms to connect to this network through their secure data pipes.

Already, 34 of these so-called GST Service Providers, or GSPs, have been accredited. Another 160 have applied for accreditation – including Moglix.

The other key element of the GST’s architecture is the Application Service Provider, or ASP, a software interface that ensures invoices are properly formatted and reconciled with those of counterparties. In a bid to reach smaller businesses, some companies are marketing “bundled” software that includes both ASP and GSP solutions.


India’s GST is the world’s most complex, with four separate tax rates for different classes of goods and services: 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent. Firms must file three tax returns a month. For those operating across state lines, the compliance burden can quickly multiply.

Major IT companies like SAP (SAPG.DE), Oracle (ORCL.N) or Microsoft (MSFT.O) are providing consulting and software “patches” that enable their bigger clients to manage the transition to the GST.

Microsoft has teamed up with tax firm EY to offer DigiGST, a cloud-based solution, while HP Inc (HPQ.N) has linked with KPMG to sell a GST laptop with two years’ support for a flat fee of 33,990 rupees ($530).

GST Network head Prakash Kumar, for his part, wants many service providers to step up so that compliance costs stay low and to avoid market monopolies.

“The market has to take care,” he told a recent GST seminar. “Let’s get out of this ‘Licence Raj’ situation.”

SAP, which reckons that its systems will handle 40 percent of all invoices uploaded to the GST Network, is working with larger clients to get their sales, procurement, manufacturing and supply chain GST-ready and compliant.

SAP also offers products for smaller firms but says it is also “GSP agnostic”, meaning it is willing to connect with new market entrants, like Moglix.

Neeraj Athalye, head of SAP’s GST adoption drive, sees many smaller firms that adopt basic GST packages graduating, eventually, to SAP’s premium range.

“Although they have a competing solution, the reason we have decided to go together is because, jointly, we have a more compelling reason to work together,” said Athalye.

File taxes online: GST launch spawns tech cottage industry for compliance

GST coming July 1 despite calls for delay: Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia

India will launch goods and services tax (GST) as planned on July 1 to boost economic growth and state revenues, a finance ministry official said on Wednesday, despite calls from some businesses for a delay.

The central and state governments were ready to roll out GST, said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, adding that firms should not count on a postponement of a tax more than a decade in the making.

India’s most ambitious tax reform since independence would transform its $2 trillion economy and market of 1.3 billion people into a single economic zone with common indirect taxes — something that neither the European Union nor the United States can boast.
And, although the GST is designed to be revenue neutral, Adhia expects it to improve compliance by businesses as well as draw their owners into the income tax net, thus boosting overall tax revenues.

“The entire parallel economy will vanish,” Adhia told Reuters in an interview.

“The benefit of avoiding tax which was accruing to the entrepreneur or to the trader – that will now come to the government. That is why we expect revenue buoyancy to go up.”


Tax checkpoints at state borders would be dismantled, Adhia said, adding that a GST panel was in talks with other departments to remove other posts that could hinder the movement of goods. This would “take some time”.

Work is also complete on setting up the GST Network, an IT (information technology) system that will match invoices, making it possible for companies to claim input credits that will soften the impact of initially high GST rates.

There will be four tax ‘slabs’ — 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent — with rates on individual items broadly in line with levies that now apply. Parliament passed laws to implement GST in the session now ending.

“Our fundamental aim is to keep the rate closer to the existing one,” said Adhia, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trusted bureaucrats.

Other countries that have launched GSTs have faced a dip in growth and revenues due to initial teething troubles, but Adhia was confident that indirect revenues would exceed a target of 9-10 per cent in the financial year (FY) to March 2018.

With company owners using their personal tax numbers to comply with GST, Adhia expects income tax dodgers to have to come clean. Only around 3 per cent of people in India pay income tax.

“It will become harder for people to stay informal,” he said. “They will have to come into the tax net, and that, in turn, will give us some benefit in direct taxes also.”

Looking further out, expected revenue buoyancy would leave room to lower GST rates and simplify the tax structure.

“The 18 per cent or 28 per cent rates certainly need a relook, but right now we can’t afford it,” said Adhia. “Once our revenues are more steady, there is a reason for consumers also to benefit from GST. And that they will.”

GST coming July 1 despite calls for delay: Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia

Higher levy under GST for demerit goods, exchange offers

Those buying goods at prices lower than prevalent market rates in exchange offers for older items, a practice popular in the consumer durables and electronics sectors, might have to shell out more in the goods and services tax (GST) regime.
For instance, a new phone handset is sold for Rs 20,000 in exchange for an older one. But, the price of the new handset, without the exchange offer, is Rs 24,000. Then, the GST would be levied on the higher amount; at present, value-added tax (VAT) is applicable on the cash component.
Also, traders, dealers and distributors who have transition stock when the GST is rolled out might not get the full refund for central taxes already paid. This is likely to affect dealers of aerated drinks, luxury cars, cigarettes, and pan masala. These goods will be taxed at the peak rate of 28 per cent.
The rules became clear after the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) on Sunday issued draft rules on composition, valuation, transition and input tax credit for comments.
These were tentatively approved by the GST Council on Friday, and will be taken up at its next meeting on May 18 and 19. The last date for providing feedback is April 10.
The CBEC also issued final rules on invoice, payment, refunds and registration with minor tweaks. The final rule on returns is yet to be issued.
The rules on valuation said the value of the supply of goods or services, where the consideration was not wholly in cash, would typically be at the market value. If the market value was not available, an alternative mechanism has been provided.
“This would impact consumer durables and electronics. At present, VAT is payable only on the cash component,” said Pratik Jain of PwC-India.
Another set of rules on transition provides that dealers, suppliers or traders who have stock at the time of the GST roll-out would get 40 per cent of central GST as the input tax credit.
This would affect those who deal in goods attracting the peak rate of 28 per cent. Though exact fitment of items in the five GST rates — zero, five, 12, 18 and 28 — is yet to be decided, it is clear that “sin” and demerit goods would attract the highest one.
Explaining the rule, Jain said if a dealer traded in goods attracting 18 per cent GST, this meant he would pay nine per cent central GST and nine per cent state GST.
The trader would get an input tax credit at the rate of 40 per cent of 9 per cent (CGST) — or, 3.6 per cent.
So after paying 18 per cent tax, he gets 3.6 per cent, drawing a net tax liability of 14.4 per cent. In the current taxation regime also, he pays 12.5-14 per cent VAT. So, the new tax liability would be close to the current one.
For dealers in goods that will attract the highest rate of 28 per cent tax, however, there would be a considerable hike. In the GST regime, they would get input tax credit of 40 per cent of 14 per cent — or, 5.6 per cent. So, his net tax liability would be 22.4 per cent. “This is much higher than the current 12.5-14 per cent,” said Jain. “There is a need to reconsider this; at least for a few segments.”
There is also the issue of treatment of inter-company transfers between states for the purpose of taxation. It is mentioned that declared invoice value would be accepted by the authorities concerned. It should put at rest all apprehensions, but it is not clear whether or not the authorities would accept any invoice value, or whether the companies concerned would need to follow the cost-plus method for this.
Experts said it was important that stock transfers were not valued at market rates as this could lead to blocking of credit at the receiving locations.
Rajat Mohan, director, indirect taxation, Nangia & Co, said there was an indication that insurance companies, banks, and telecom operators would get some relief in case of self-supplies, as they can issue invoices on a quarterly basis.
Rules on valuation also provide clarity on second hand sale of goods, booking of tickets for travel by air, or insurance premium.
While principles for taxation on airlines and the insurance sector is similar to existing service tax laws, specific provision for valuation of trading in second-hand goods provide much needed clarity for industry, particularly for used car sales.
Higher levy under GST for demerit goods, exchange offers

GST draft bills tabled in Parliament; peg peak rate at 40%

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today introduced in Lok Sabha four bills on Goods and Services Tax, providing for a maximum GST rate of 40 per cent, an anti- profiteering authority and arrests for evading taxes.
With this, rollout of GST – the biggest tax reform since independence – has entered the last lap and its passage by Parliament will pave the way for integrating India as one market with one rate of tax replacing multiple state and central levies.
Jaitley introduced a Central Goods and Service Tax or CGST bill which will amalgamate all the indirect central government levies like sales tax, service tax, excise duty, additional customs duty (Countervailing Duty), special additional duty of customs, surcharges and cesses.
CGST provides for a maximum tax of 20 per cent.
Actual rates would however be a four-tier tax structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent as approved by the GST Council. The peak rate of 40 per cent is only an enabling provision for financial emergencies.
A Union Territory GST Bill will take care of taxation in UTs of Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
A Bill on Integrated-GST — to be levied and collected by the Centre on inter-state supply of goods and services, was also introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The IGST law provides for a maximum tax of 40 per cent.
Jaitley also introduced a fourth legislation called GST (Compensation to States) Bill, 2017 that provides for mechanism for making good any loss of revenue of states from introduction of GST in first five years of rollout.
These four bills will be taken up for discussion together.
Another mirror legislation of CGST, called State-GST, will amalgamate all state taxes like VAT, will be levied by states and has to be approved by all state legislatures. Together, CGST and SGST will enable the GST incidence of 40 per cent. GST will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir.
The CGST Bill also provides for e-commerce companies to collect tax at source at a rate not exceeding 1 per cent of net value of taxable supplies, out of payments to suppliers supplying goods or services through their portals.
To protect small businesses, the CGST provides for a tax of no more than 1 per cent of turnover for manufacturers with annual turnover of up to Rs 50 lakh. A 2.5 per cent tax is prescribed for suppliers.
To ensure that benefit of lower taxes is passed on to consumers, an anti-profiteering measure has been incorporated in the law.
It provides for constituting an Authority to examine whether input tax credits availed by any registered taxable person, or the reduction in the price on account of any reduction in the tax rate, have actually resulted in a commensurate reduction in the price of the said goods and/or services supplied by him.
The law provides for arrest, ordered by no less than a Tax Commissioner, in case of suppression of any transaction or evading taxes. A person convicted is punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or fine.
The Compensation Law provides for levy of cess on top of the peak rate of approved tax (28 per cent presently) on paan masala, tobacco, aerated waters, luxury cars and coal to create a non-lapsable fund for compensating states.
Such cess has been capped at 135 per cent in case of paan masala, Rs 4,170 per thousand cigarettes sticks or 290 per cent ad valorem, Rs 400 per tonne on coal and 15 per cent on aerated water and luxury cars.
Compensation will be paid bi-monthly and the amount due would be calculated after considering a 14 per cent growth rate in taxes over the base year of 2015-16.
Touted as the biggest taxation reform since independence, GST is expected to boost GDP growth by up to 2 per cent. The government proposes to roll out GST by July 1.
“The Integrated Goods and Services tax Bill provides for …Tax on all inter-state supplies of goods and services or both except supply of alcoholic liquor for human consumption at a rate to be notified not exceeding 40 per cent, as recommended by the GST Council,” said the statements of objects and reasons of the IGST bill.
The 40 per cent would be apportioned equally between the Centre and the states.
As Jaitley introduced the bills in the Lok Sabha, Opposition, Congress and TMC, protested saying it was not listed in today’s agenda for the House.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S S Ahluwalia said the bills were uploaded on the government website on the midnight of Friday.
The Opposition MPs, however, took strong objection saying how could the government expect the members to check the website at midnight and why the issue was not discussed at the meeting of Business Advisory Committee last week.
Dismissing the opposition objections, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the bills were sent to the MPs on Saturday morning and there was nothing wrong in these being tabled.
The GST Council, comprising Union Finance Minister and his state counterparts, has already approved the 4 legislations over a series of 12 meetings. The Council will meet again on March 31, and will finalise the rules and formats for the new indirect tax regime.
Deloitte Haskins Sells LLP Senior Director M S Mani said the introduction of the bills “mark the successful culmination of a series of steps taken by the government since August 2016 and it now appears certain that India is headed for a GST rollout from July 2017”.
GST draft bills tabled in Parliament; peg peak rate at 40%

Govt-Cong standoff casts shadow on GST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, to discuss the government’s parliamentary strategy in the wake of the standoff with the Congress, which has cast a shadow on the goods and services tax (GST) constitutional amendment Bill in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

Junior ministers, however, indicated that the government — both on the compensatory afforestation Bill as well as GST Bill — might galvanise the regional parties in its favour and isolate the Congress in the Upper House. Both the Bills are currently pending in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority. However, such a strategy is unlikely to work out smoothly, given the opposition’s unity in the first week of the session. Government strategists also said that none of the senior Congress leaders, particularly Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, was available on Monday and they will reach out to Congress leadership on Tuesday. Azad and senior Congress leaders were busy with the party’s Uttar Pradesh campaign.

On Monday, the Congress didn’t let Rajya Sabha transact any legislative business and the House could not take up the compensatory afforestation Bill. The Congress accused the government of scuttling on Friday, along with ally Shiromani Akali Dal, a private member’s Bill by Congress MP K V P Ramachandra Rao to demand special package for Andhra Pradesh.

Congress threatened to not let the House function until the Bill was discussed. “What happened on Friday was by design. It was planned by the government to disrupt the proceedings,” Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma said. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the Bill can now only be taken up on August 5. Fridays are reserved for discussing private members’ Bills and resolutions.

Congress received support from Samajwadi Party and the Left parties, and was also hopeful of support from BJP ally Telugu Desam Party. A vote on the Bill, as and when it’s taken up, could embarrass the government. However, government strategists maintained that Rao’s Bill was a ‘Money Bill’ and hence it could only be taken up in the Lok Sabha.

In further souring of relations, the Akalis moved a privilege notice against Congress members Jairam Ramesh and Renuka Chowdhury to the Rajya Sabha Chairman for allegedly misbehaving with Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal during the proceedings on Friday.

Congress leaders insisted that they would oppose the Bill on compensatory afforestation in its current form as it was inconsistent with the Forest Rights Act and bypasses Gram Sabhas. However, Congress leaders also asserted that the party would not block GST Bill. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said it was the government which was unwilling to pass the GST as it was apprehensive of the inflationary pressures in the immediate aftermath of the tax reform’s passage.

But Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal claimed the government was working overtime to build a consensus on GST. He even said a consensus is likely to be reached on at least two of the three demands put forth by the Congress. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will meet the state finance ministers on Tuesday.

Meghwal said state governments run by regional parties — Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — supported the GST Bill. “We are trying to pass the GST Bill in Monsoon session of Parliament,” he said. The Monsoon session ends on August 12.

In a similar vein, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused the Congress of being unfair to the states by blocking the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, which would release Rs 42,000 crore to states, including Rs 2,023 crore to Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker constituted a committee to look into the alleged indiscipline by Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann. The Lok Sabha also passed a Bill providing for opening of six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) at Tirupati, Palakkad, Goa, Dharwar, Bhilai and Jammu.

Govt-Cong standoff casts shadow on GST

GST prospects ambiguous again

Developments both inside and outside Parliament have again cast a shadow on the prospects of the goods and services tax (GST) constitutional amendment Bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Its fate has suddenly become linked to that of the one relating to compensatory afforestation, to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. A meeting on Tuesday of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the empowered committee on GST of state finance ministers (ECSFM) could also indicate the way ahead.

After the government outreach of the first few days ensured passage of six Bills in the two Houses and discussion on current issues, government-Congress relations have become strained. On Friday, the principal opposition party in the Rajya Sabha accused the treasury benches of using the ‘Parliament security breach’ controversy to scuttle a private member’s Bill on granting Andhra Pradesh special status.

If GST is to be taken up during the ongoing session, much hinges on whether the government on Monday accommodates Congress concerns on the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority Bill. Or isolates the latter and pushes it through with the support of regional parties. This Bill envisages the release of about Rs 40,000 crore to states for afforestation.

Discussion at the ECSFM will also throw light on the government strategy for GST, and whether it is in a mood to push this through without Congress concerns on board.

The Congress is also upset that the Enforcement Directorate has launched a money laundering probe against one of its seniors, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and some others.

It relates to alleged ‘re-allotment’ of a plot of land to Associated Journals Ltd, owning the National Herald media group, in Panchkula in 2005.

Last week, a Rajya Sabha committee had allocated five hours for discussion on GST. On Friday, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs said the Bill could come up in the week starting Monday.

However, the list of legislative business the government circulated on Sunday did not mention the GST Bill being taken up this week. The session started on July 23. It ends on August 12 and 15 sittings are left.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said on Sunday: “There is a widespread demand for early introduction of GST from almost all political parties, state governments, trade and industrial bodies and even the general public. I appeal to all parties to sense the mood of the nation and cooperate in this regard.”

For the coming week, the government has proposed to introduce the benami transactions, whistleblower protection and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bills (see chart). And, a resolution to approve a recommendation for revising the rate of dividend payable by the Railways.

GST prospects ambiguous again

Congress indicates softening on GST

There’s a perceptible change in the Congress party’s position, hitherto opposed, on the proposed national goods and services tax (GST) Bill.

On Sunday, Ghulam Nabi Azad, its leader in the Rajya Sabha, said the party was ready to support any legislation in the interests of “the people, business and India”. “We are not for preventing any Bill from being passed,” he said after an all-party meeting on the issue.

Ahead of the previous session of Parliament, he’d stated the party was opposed to the GST “in its present form”. His tone on Sunday indicated the party had changed its position, faced with near-isolation on the issue in the Rajya Sabha.

In Sunday’s meet, called by recently appointed Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi complimented all political parties for speaking in one voice on Kashmir. He sought similar help to pass the GST Bill. “We represent both the people and parties, and there is a need to keep national interests above anything else,” he said.

After the meeting, attended by 45 leaders of 30 political parties, Ananth Kumar said the Congress had assured support to legislative proposals on merit. He said the government assured the leaders of an open mind and would facilitate discussion on issues raised by various parties. Kashmir and the recent political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh are two and likely to be raised.

The minister said the government would build consensus on GST and consult all parties. Despite their opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress are supporting the GST Bill.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, of the Congress said on GST: “There have been intermittent discussions…a draft (proposal should) be presented on each of three issues…the one per cent cap which is an additional levy that can be levied by states, the issue of an 18 per cent cap on GST and the issue of a dispute resolution mechanism. On all these, the ball is fairly and squarely, as we have always mentioned, in the government’s court.”

Adding: “Discussions have happened with the Congress leaders but we are still awaiting a concrete response from the government; only then can we express our opinion.”

The only other entity still opposed to the passage of GST is the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which rules Tamil Nadu. “We believe there is a possibility of resolution and the ball is in the Centre’s court. We hope the PM intervenes in the matter,” its spokesperson, K Pandiarajan, had said last month. “We have raised six specifications; one has been addressed. A major specification is to compensate states like Tamil Nadu for five years. Manufacturing states like Tamil Nadu should not get penalised for doing well…We have announced so many schemes and have made a huge amount of fiscal commitment. If we compromise on everything, where will we find resources?”

Tamil Nadu demands that revenue neutrality be ensured if GST takes effect, a consensus be reached on a revenue-neutral rate and assurance of full compensation to states for revenue loss. And, that petroleum products be kept out of GST and states be allowed to levy additional taxes on tobacco and tobacco products.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had met the PM in mid-June. Parliament’s monsoon session ends on August 12. It being a relatively short session, with 20 sittings, the government’s legislative agenda has only 16 Bills. Some considered important haven’t been listed; the contentious Land Bill has been given a quiet burial.

Apart from GST, the other key Bill to be taken up will be the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, after a report is presented by the joint committee examining it, in the first week.


The govt on Sunday identified a legislative agenda that includes 16 Bills to be taken up in the monsoon session, including 3 Bills to replace ordinances

The Indian Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (agreeing to amendments made by the Rajya Sabha)
The Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 ( after report is presented by the joint committee in the first week)
The GST Bill, also known as the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014
The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015
The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016
The Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016
The Enemy Property (Amendment) Bill, 2016
(All the above five Bills in the Rajya Sabha have been passed by the Lok Sabha)
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012
The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2015
The High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016
The Institute of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The Use and regulation of DNA based technology in Civil and Criminal Proceedings, Identification of Missing Persons and Human Remains Bill, 2016
The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 (to replace an ordinance)
The Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 (to replace an ordinance)
The Enemy Properties (Amendment and Validation) Third Ordinance, 2016

Discussion and voting on Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2015-16.

It being a short session, key Bills missing from govt’s list of business for monsoon session:
The Factories (Amendment) Bill,2014
The Electricity (Amendment) Bill,2014
The Lok Pal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill,2014
The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill,2015
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Amendment) Bill,2015
The Consumer Protection Bill,2015
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill,2015
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (referred to Standing Committee)
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015

Congress indicates softening on GST