Wednesday, 22August2018

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Assam starts mega exercise to go digital

Guwahati: From budgetary payments to daily wages, Assam has launched a mega exercise starting from the state capital to the gram panchayat level to make digital transactions.

The state wants the Centre to make all online transfers, payments and receipts free of any charges so that it acts as an incentive for the users to shift to digital paltform from cash payment mode.

A detailed road map has been prepared for making all payments and receipts in the state government digitally in a time-bound manner. For all non-government entities like private hospitals, educational institutions, shops and establishments, the government departments concerned will issue advisories for shifting to digital payment mode within a fixed timeframe.

State commerce and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said. "All government departments will examine the possibility of amending relevant acts and rules so that enablers for digital payment such as POS machine (swipe machine) is made compulsory."

Departments will also explore the possible incentives for digital payments and disincentives for cash payments, the minister said. He added that to help the government's endeavour to bring the state under online transactions, BSNL has been asked to remove connectivity shadow areas.

"The state government has requested the Centre to issue requisite notification to allow the regional rural bank and Cooperative Apex Bank, Assam, to go for internet banking so that more than 550 branches can add to the digital campaign," Patowary said. He added that a request has also been sent to the Centre to amend Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, so that receipt and payment of wages can be made digitally.

The state government has asked banks to sensitize representatives of gaon panchayats and urban local bodies about the advantages of digital payment. "The state government, in coordination with banks and all stakeholders, will initiate a mission-mode campaign so that the common man participates in the process of digital payment easily and effectively," the minister said.

"The government decided to implement these measures so that digital payment becomes a way of life in Assam within a short time," the minister said.

At present, the state government has already disallowed cash payments from public resources flowing through budgetary control. Majority payments, including salaries to government employees, are made digitally through RTGS and online transfers, while some are made through cheques.

About 80% of VAT is collected online from dealers and only revenue collection of transport, excise, forest royalty and other non-tax revenue sources are still through cash payment.