The E-way bill, an accompaniment to the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST), has got almost as much media attention as the term input tax credit in the last few months. But after being rolled out on February 1, 2018 with much fanfare, the E-way bill has met with the same fate as some of return filings on the GST. It been deferred indefinitely after taxpayers complained of technical glitches that stymied all their attempts to generate it online.
What is it?
- The E-way bill, short form for electronic way bill, is a document to be generated online under the GST system, when goods of the value of more than ₹50,000 are shipped inter-State or intra-State.
- The E-way bill must be raised before the goods are shipped and should include details of the goods, their consignor, recipient and transporter.
- The transporter has to carry the invoice and the copy of E-way bill as support documents for the movement of goods. He can also carry the E-way bill number, mapped to an RFID (radio frequency identification device).
- GST laws flexibly allow any of the parties to a transaction — the consignor or the recipient — to generate the E-way bill, provided they are registered. Whether goods are transported on one’s own or hired conveyance, by air, rail or road, the E-way bill has to be generated.
- When the consignor or transporter generates the E-way bill, the recipient for the consignment has to either accept or reject it on the portal. If no action is taken by the recipient in 72 hours, it shall be taken as accepted.
- One of the key arguments in favour of GST was its ability to unify India as a market and do away with bothersome inter-State check-posts. The same can be applied to e-way bill too.
- Every E-way bill generated by a sender or buyer of goods is to be automatically updated in the outward sales return (GSTR1) of the supplier, leaving little scope for tax evasions on shipments.
- Also, a single electronic way bill for the movement of goods throughout the country was expected to save tons of paperwork and sidestep various inter-state clearances for buyers, sellers and transporters.
The GST E-way bill combination was expected to trim logistics costs by 20 per cent. Teething problems are inevitable. In implementing the E-way bill, we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of good.