An electronic system to track movement of products under the goods and services tax (GST) system will be put in place across the country (inter-city as well as intra-city) by June 1, 2018.
While the mechanism for e-way Bill, which implies all goods worth over Rs 50,000 will have to be pre-registered online before they are moved for sale beyond 10 km, will be introduced on February 1 for inter-state carriage, its uniform pan-India implementation (covering goods movements within states too) will come into effect by June 1, the GST Council decided at a meeting held through video-conferencing on 16 December 2017.
- The e-way Bill, resisted by businesses so far, is expected to help the Centre and state governments address the issue of falling revenues by arresting evasion of taxes under GST.
- Once this system is in place, central and state tax authorities will be able to track the inter-state and intra-state movement of goods. Tax commissioner or an officer on his behalf will be authorized to intercept any conveyance to verify the e-way bill or the number in physical form for all supplies.
- Earlier in October, the GST Council had decided that e-way Bill would be introduced in a staggered manner from January 1, 2018, and its national rollout was scheduled from April 1 of that year.
- The industry had demanded its deferment. A GST advisory committee, chaired by Confederation of All India Traders secretary general Praveen Khandelwal, had earlier suggested deferment of e-way bill till 2019.
- The panel also wanted an alternative method in place of e-way bill. After the latest decision on 16 December 2017, Khandelwal said the e-way Bill should be implemented from April 1 instead of February 1.
- He also reiterated CAIT’s suggestion of an alternative model of using a Quick Response (QR) code on each invoice, to protect traders from harassment since it will be self-generated.
- But, even without the introduction of nationwide e-way Bill, the system is already running in some states such as Karnataka. The states which are already using the system can be early adopters of national e-way Bill, a statement issued by the Council said. But in any case, the Uniform System of e-way Bill for inter-State as well as an intra-State movement will be implemented across the country by June one, 2018.
- The Council in its meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, reviewed the progress of readiness of hardware and software required for the introduction of nationwide e-way Bill system, being developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) along with GST Network.
- The e-way system will be ready for rollout on a trial basis latest by January 16 next year. Trade and transporters can start using the system on a voluntary basis from that day.
- The rules for implementation of the 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 added that states can choose their own timings for implementation of the Bill for intra-state movement of goods on any date before June 1, 2018.