New Delhi, January 27, 2018

Companies will be able to report delays of more than 30 minutes in the checking of electronic way bills carried by transport vehicles as the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) will provide an online form where such information can be filed, a top official told ET.

This check has been introduced to ensure that goods in transit are not delayed by inspectors. In another simplification measure, companies have been given the option of uploading their invoices when they get their e-way bills.

"We have provided a form on the portal," said GSTN chief executive officer Prakash Kumar. "Consignor can report through this form if the vehicle is stopped for more than half an hour."

The form can be filed by the driver of the vehicle or the owner of the goods or the transporter by giving the invoice number. The forms will go directly to senior officials who will then seek reasons for delays during e-way bill checking.

Businesses have expressed two key concerns over e-way bills — glitches in the portal and a return of the inspector raj leading to stoppage of vehicles.

To ensure ease of doing business, GSTN has linked e-way bill with filing.

"We have given the option to send invoice to GSTR1 from here directly. There will be no need to upload the invoice again for those who do it from here," Kumar said.

SYSTEM WORKING FINE
E-way bill trials began in the middle of January and will be rolled out nationwide for inter-state movement of goods on February 1. Fifteen states have agreed to implement it for intra-state sales as well. All states will have to do so by June 1.

An e-way bill is required for movement of goods worth more than Rs 50,000. For intra-state items, it's required for transport beyond 10 km. 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 in the last few months. GST revenue picked up to Rs 86,703 crore in December from Rs 80,808 crore in the month before.

The e-way bill is a key element of GST, which is aimed at creating a common market by unifying a wide swathe of state levies.

Kumar sought to assuage industry worries, citing the ease in issuing e-way bills.

"System is working quite fine," he said. "About 2.16 lakh people have taken it from the portal since it was opened on January 10 and the number is only going up." Those who have enrolled include 300,000 taxpayers and 4,000 transporters not registered under GST, he said.

The highest e-way bill registrations are from Karnataka, which had a similar system earlier. Rajasthan and Maharashtra, which did not have such a system, run it a close second. There have even been registrations in Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.

Kumar said companies were already used to such a system prior to GST. Besides, the current one is much easier multiple e-way bills have been replaced by just one even if several state borders are crossed.

"Almost every company is aware of it as all goods in most states moved on transit permits," he said, adding, "One e-way bill is valid for end-to-end movement."

The system's developers have closely studied previous models and implemented it carefully. "We have drawn from the Karnataka experience," he said. "We have made tools for large companies to make it convenient for them... For large companies, we have provided application programme interface."

[The Economic Times]