CBIC sets up Help Desks’ for expeditious IGST refunds for MSME exporters

The Economic Times By Pranbihanga Borpuzari, ET Online Jul 20, 2018, 10.28 AM IST

The Circular advises exporters to ensure due diligence and discipline to avoid such mismatch errors as such extensions are not likely to be considered in future.

CBIC has issued two Circulars to expedite the refund for exporters as an extension of the special “Refund Fortnight” drive, especially for exporters in the MSME domain.

In terms of the first Circular No. 21/2018-Customs dated July 18, 2018, Help Desks’ have been created for expeditious IGST refunds for MSME exporters. The Help desks would assist in resolution of IGST refund claims for MSME exporters as part of on-going ‘Refund Fortnight.

CBIC realizes that MSMEs are unable to approach Customs port of exports due to factors like distance, lack of information/knowledge etc. and accordingly, their refunds have been held up. According to the circular, these Help Desks would be located at 10 cities at FIEO offices and would function till August 1, 2018.

CBIC is currently running the third tranche of its special fortnight drive from July 16 to 30 to fast track clearance of pending GST refunds of exporters.

CBIC says the help desks would be managed by officers of Customs, nominated by jurisdictional Customs zone and the officers deputed at Help Desks would use data provided by Directorate of Systems regarding status of pending IGST refund claim. The officers would inform the exporters about specific errors and explain them about the documentation requirement, if any. The officers would also guide the MSME exporters to resolve the errors.

Once the details are provided by exporters, the same will be transmitted by ICEGATE e-mail to nodal officers at port of export and subsequently, the Customs officers at port of export will process the refund claim after all necessary details/documents have been received. Thus, the exporter is not required to visit any port of export, said the CBIC Circular.

“Creating help desks at ten locations at FIEO offices, to assist in errors, explaining documentation requirement to exporters and dispensing with the requirement of MSME exporters to visit the port, is likely to reduce the processing time and documentation delays,” Harpreet Singh, Partner, Indirect Tax, KPMG India.

In terms of the second Circular No. 22/2018-Customs dated July 18, 2018, CBIC has extended an alternative mechanism of officer interface to resolve invoice mismatches (i.e. SB005 errors) filed upto June 30, 2018.

The mechanism has been put in place to take care of mismatches where the exporters have mentioned PAN instead of GSTIN in the Shipping Bills, even though GSTIN has been correctly mentioned while filing the GST returns. Due to this mismatch, the IGST refund claims were not getting processed.

The Circular mentions that the rectification facility has been extended in view of the ongoing ‘Refund Fortnight’ giving high priority to the interests of exporters. The Circular also advises exporters to ensure due diligence and discipline to avoid such mismatch errors as such extensions are not likely to be considered in future.

“Introducing a mechanism to automatically take care of mismatches where exporters have mentioned PAN instead of GSTIN in the Shipping Bills, where GSTIN has been correctly mentioned in the GST returns, is a good example of using technology to take care of inadvertent errors in order to expedite refunds,” says Singh.

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