GST: E-way bill adds to the confusion even as government assures timely rollout

E-way bills may cause major hiccups even as the government seems committed to launch GST, India’s biggest tax reform, from 1 July, less than three weeks from today. E-way bill is integral to GST as it enables movement of goods worth more than Rs 50,000.

Of the many issues that plague e-way bills, the bedrock for GST, the major ones are that they will be valid only for a certain number of days based on the distance of movement of goods, and that a robust IT infrastructure is required to generate the e-way bills something which seems highly unlikely at the moment as even GSTN’s own system is not ready to enable such transactions.

Then there are issues such as a new e-way bill should be generated whenever the mode of transport of a consignment is changed. This can be a serious problem for e-commerce companies that use various modes of transport for delivery of the same item.

Another provision that e-way bills generated for goods not transported must be cancelled within 24 hours and that an e-way bill cannot be cancelled once verified during transit. Such issues have not been tackled and left for the next meeting of GST Council on 18 June.

Under GST, to move goods worth more than Rs 50,000, prior online registration of the consignment and obtaining an ‘e-way bill’ is required, which the tax officials can inspect anytime during the transit of goods to check tax evasion. Therefore, without an e-way bill, goods worth over Rs 50,000 simply cannot move under the GST regime.

Meanwhile, the government has time and again reiterated its position that there will be no change in the deadline for the rollout of the biggest indirect tax reform on 1 July. Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia today denied rumours that the rollout of GST will be delayed and urged businesses not to be misled by false rumours. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week said that there is no reason to further postpone the targeted 1 July roll-out date of GST.

“The rumours about GST implementation being delayed are false. Please do not be misled by it,” Adhia tweeted this morning.

“With all the procedural matters decided, registrations are taking place at a fast pace. Today I see no reason why we can’t target July 1,” Jaitley had told CNBC TV18.

However, with the current progress on e-way bills, the government may consider postponing its implementation by a few months, rather than delaying the entire tax regime. The central government is in favour of postponing by a few months the implementation of the e-way bill, according to reports by PTI.

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