April 11: In a bid to prevent the fall of GST data on private hands, the government has decided to increase its stake in the Goods and Service Tax Network, for which the ball have now been set rolling. Government officials associated with the matter has confirmed that the Government has started the initiative for acquiring controlling stake in the GSTN.
Accordingly, the government is eyeing to increase the stake of the central government and state governments in GSTN to 60%. At present, the governments jointly hold a stake of 49%, while the remaining ownership is with private financial institutions.
Of the 49% stake of the government, 24.5% resides with the central government, while the remaining is with the states. Among the private players, HDFC, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and NSE Strategic Investment Company hold equal shares of 10%, while LIC Housing Finance Limited owns 11% of the GSTN.
The move is being initiated by the government to keep private hands off the IT infrastructure and systems related to the Goods and Service Tax. Previous disclosure has revealed the government’s intention to make the ownership of the GSTN reside with the state. This comes after persistent demand for the same after fears about sensitive data residing in private hands were expressed from different corners including party leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is said to have approved the proposed increase of stake. He is also said to have put forward the suggestion of government becoming the repository of data provided by companies so as to minimize the fear of data breach. Jaitley, who was under treatment, has arrived home, but could still undergo surgery in a few weeks. He has however started reviewing files according to the officials.
GSTN has been set up primarily to provide IT infrastructure and services to the Central and State Governments, tax payers, and other stakeholders for implementation of the unified Goods and Services Tax.