New Delhi: The GST provision requiring transporters to carry an electronic waybill or e-way bill when moving goods from one place to another, will be implemented by June 1.
The all-powerful GST council Saturday decided to implement the e-way bill mechanism throughout the country by June 1 after reviewing the IT network readiness, an official statement said here.
In the pre-GST era, supply of goods happened only after obtaining these 'waybills' from VAT authorities. A waybill is a physical document that allows movement of goods. Compliance of waybills was an issue.
Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, the waybill is replaced by an e-way bill which aims at mitigating the problems caused by waybill compliance.
E-way bill is an electronic way bill for movement of goods which can be generated on the GSTN portal. Movement of goods of more than Rs 50,000 in value cannot be done by a registered person without an e-way bill.
When an e-way bill is generated, a unique e-way bill number (EBN) is allocated and is available to the supplier, recipient, and the transporter.
The 24th meeting of the GST Council, held Saturday through video conferencing under the chairmanship of finance minister Arun Jaitley, discussed the implementation of the e-way bill system in the country after reviewing readiness of hardware and software for its launch, the statement said.
"Till such time as the national e-way Bill is ready, the states were authorized to continue their own separate e-way Bill systems," it added.
However, it was represented by the trade and transporters that this is causing undue hardship in the inter-state movement of goods and therefore, bringing in an early all- India system of e-way bill has become a necessity.
As per the schedule of implementation, the nationwide e- way bill system will be ready to be rolled out on a trial basis latest by January 16, 2018, the finance ministry statement said.
Trade and transporters can start using this system on a voluntary basis from January 16.
Subsequently, the rules for implementation of nationwide e-way bill system for inter-state movement of goods on a compulsory basis will be notified with effect from February 1, 2018.
This will bring uniformity across the states for seamless inter-state movement of goods, it said.
The e-way bill mechanism has been introduced in the GST regime to plug tax evasion loopholes. Tax evasion was one of the reasons cited by the government for the fall in revenue collection in October.
The GST revenue for October stood at Rs 83,346 crore, the lowest since the implementation of the new indirect tax regime from July 1.
It was significantly lower than the September figure of Rs 95,131 crore.
"While the system for both inter-state and intra-state e-way Bill generation will be ready by January 16, the states may choose their own timings for implementation of e-way Bill for intra-state movement of goods on any date before June 1, 2018," the statement said.
There are certain states which already have a system of e-way bill for intra-state as well as inter-state movement and some of those states can be early adopters of the national e- way bill system for intra-state movement also, it noted.
"But in any case, the uniform system of e-way Bill for inter-State as well as intra-state movement will be implemented across the country by June 1," it added.
According to Deloitte India Senior Director R Muralidharan, the mechanism will not only help the tax authorities monitor inter-state and intra-state movement of goods but also cut transportation time by reducing loss of time at check posts.
Further, this is expected to help the dealers who do inter-state transactions in multiple states as the e-way bill process will now be common across states, he said.
Harpreet Singh, Partner Indirect Tax, KPMG in India, said: "GST Council approving the mandatory compliance of E- waybill is a good news for the industry."
"Replacing usage of multiple waybills across states with one common E-waybill for pan India movement appears to be a step in the right direction. However, whether this would be disruptive for the industry or act as a stimulus for better movement of goods, would depend upon the E-Waybill Rules and the implementation of the same," he said.
If issues like short validity period of e-waybill and submission of particulars by multiple persons under the rules released earlier remain unresolved, implementation of e- waybill may not go as planned and in fact could be an impediment for free movement of goods in the country, he said.