The process of the govt acquiring controlling stake in the GSTN (Goods and Service Tax Network) has been put in motion, government officials familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified.
According to them, Union minister Arun Jaitley has approved the increase of the stake of the central government and the state governments in GST Network to at least 60% from the current 49%, to address fears that the ownership of a company that handles the IT infrastructure and systems related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), should reside with the state.
Currently, 51% of the ownership of GST Network is with private financial institutions.
The demand that the state take control of GSTN is a long-pending one, and is also prompted by fears that sensitive GST data should not reside in private hands. Several politicians, cutting across party lines, including some from the BJP, have questioned the wisdom of the control of a critical cog in India’s tax process being vested with private entities.
Arun Jaitley, who is back home after his medical treatment, could still undergo surgery in a few weeks, but has started reviewing files, the officials said. They added that he is of the opinion that the government should be the repository of the data provided by companies so that there is no fear of a data breach.
The current shareholding pattern of GSTN is: central government (24.5%), states (24.5%), HDFC (10%), HDFC Bank (10%), ICICI Bank (10 %), NSE Strategic Investment Company (10 %) and LIC Housing Finance Limited (11 %). GST Network has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central & State Governments, tax payers, and other stakeholders for the implementation of the unified Goods and Services Tax. The authorized capital of the company is Rs 10 crore and UIDAI chairman Ajay Bhushan Pandey is its chairman.
Source: Hindustan Times