The Indian Union Budget 2012-2013 was announced by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on March 16. Although no timeline was announced for introduction of GST (Goods and Services Tax), a number of proposals were released which are perceived to be preparation for the eventual launch of GST. Such proposals include, but are not limited to organizing a GST Network (GSTN) and changes in Service Tax. GSTN will be set up as a national information utility and will be operational by August 2012. It will implement common PAN (Permanent Account number)-based registration, returns, and payments processing for all states on a shared platform. PAN will be a common identifier in both direct and indirect taxes and is intended to ease the transition to GST by enabling both the Centre and States to share information. A number of changes in Service Tax were also proposed in the effort to, again, ease the way to GST transition. Changing over to the use of a negative list from the current positive list was proposed last year. The Finance Minister stated that the introduction of the concept has received overwhelming support. (Negative list – everything is taxable unless specifically listed. Positive list – only the enumerated services listed are taxable) A Study team will be set up to examine the possibility of a common tax code for Service Tax and Central Excise to harmonize the two. This alignment between the Service Tax and Central Excise will include a common return form called EST-1. An increase to the Service Tax rate was also proposed from the current 10% to 12%.