EARLY ADOPTION OF E-WAY BILL IN THE GOODS AND SERVICES TAX REGIME

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The Government of India has planned for early implementation of the electronic way bill (E-Way Bill) System with effect from 01.02.2018, which is an important element of the goods and services tax (GST) regime in India.

Meaning:

The E-Way Bill is a bill generated from the GST Network (GSTN) which is mandatory for every transporter to carry, for inter-state and intra-state transportation of goods worth more than Rs 50,000 within the country, except in certain cases. The E-Way Bill need not be generated in cases where goods being transported by a non-motorised conveyance; goods being transported from the port, airport, air cargo complex and land customs station to an inland container depot or a container freight station for clearance by Customs; and when Consignment value is less than Rs 50,000 among others.

Advantages to the Government:

This Bill is an evidence of the movement of goods, a tool to check that goods being transported comply with the GST Laws, and to check tax evasion.

Validity of the E-Way Bill:

The E-Way Bill once generated would be valid for one day (24 hours) and in exceptional cases, the Commissioner of GST may, upon expiry of the E-Way Bill, generate another E-Way Bill with the details of goods.

Early adoption of the System:

The decision to adopt the E-Way Bill System early may be as a result of the decline in GST revenue in the past few months.

Countrywide E-Way Bill trials:

The Government had conducted nationwide E-Way Bill trials on 16.01.2018. Various industry experts have expressed concern about whether the IT infrastructure would be able to support the large volumes of E-Way Bills generated in the GSTN.

Portal for E-Way Bill:

The National Informatics Centre (NIC), Government’s premier Science and Technology Organisation had created a specific portal (ewaybill.nic.in/) (Portal) to generate an E-Way Bill, which the transporter has to carry along with the invoice of the goods. Reportedly, the E-Way Bill System has been designed to handle around 50 lakhs E-Way Bills per day.¬†The CEO of GSTN has clarified that such online data is protected and that such data is accessible only to the tax payer and the tax officer.

Possible fallouts:

This System may have some fallouts including connectivity issues in small towns, difficulty in operations in case of System/Portal disruption, understanding of such complex mechanism and compliances by small traders and transporters, etc.

Public Reaction:

Many companies and traders have reacted to the early adoption of E-Way Bill System in India stating that a number of businesses are apprehensive that the nationwide implementation of this System may lead to delays in transportation and arbitrary inspections of consignments by the mobile squads; that the Portal may not be able to handle the huge volumes of E-Way Bills generated and so the implementation should be delayed until the Portal works smoothly; that the Government may use quick response (QR) codes to validate the goods being transported instead of E-Way Bills, etc.

Moreover, a few companies have supported this move of the Government stating that the organized section of the long-distance logistics industry may contribute towards the rapid growth of the Indian economy.

 

Harini Daliparthy

Legal Associate

 

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