What are the key concerns that have prompted the government for E-way bill Roll-out?
Finally, the much awaited electronic mechanism for documentation and tracking of goods transit, also known as E-way bill system, has been reintroduced on April 1, 2018, for interstate goods transit. The anti-evasion measure introduced by the Central Government as one of the crucial aspects of the GST regime that was hitherto put on hold due to the glitches on the E-way bill portal, has been finally mandated nationwide.
Evidently, it was necessary to roll out the bill as soon as possible as to gear up the plummeting tax collections in spite of the tremendous pace of GST registration. There are some noteworthy concerns that have arisen due to the sudden holdback of the implementation of E-way bill despite its roll-out on February 1.
#1. What were reasons for holdback E-way bill roll-out?
It was feared that some corrupt tax officials might take undue advantage of technical blockage and harass the traders by stopping obstructing the consignment and might also stoop to rent-seeking. Thus, the E-way bill mandate was put on hold.
#2. What were the apprehensions due to deferment of E-way bill roll-out?
The successive deferments of E-way bill mandate had raised grave concerns vis-à-vis trade & commerce. Although the decision was taken by the government after technical logjams at the E-way bill portal and resultant stagnation of mercantile, it had led to serious apprehensions. It had gravely affected the government revenue. It was worried that the traders might seek undue benefit by underreporting their transactions. This could be a major reason behind plunging of GST revenue. In order to dissuade the unfair attempts of traders, E-way bill was necessary.
#3. How much will the E-way bill boost the government revenue?
Currently, a large chunk of GST revenue pegged at INR 85,000-90,000 crore has been stuck up due to the absence of E-way bill. The recent decision of the government to reintroduce E-way bill will boost the government revenue up to much extent.
#4. Which type of goods requires E-way bill?
E-way bill is mandatory for interstate transit of all goods of value exceeding INR 50,000. However, a certain category of goods is still excluded from the ambit of the e-way bill. This covers perishable items such as meat, milk & milk products, fruits and vegetables. Other items include gold & silver jewelry, LPG cylinders, silk, wool and handlooms.
#5. Where is the E-way bill is applicable?
E-way bill is applicable nationwide for interstate movement of goods. However, it is still not applicable in 8 states viz. Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Bihar, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat as per the directives of the 26th GST Council meeting.
The E-way bill will become effective for intrastate movement of goods after April 15 in phases.
#6. What measures have been introduced to avoid technical glitches in E-way bill portal?
To rule out technical holdups, the infrastructure enhanced by the GSTN and the National Informatics Centre. Under the new system 75 lakh e-way bills can be handled daily, as compared to earlier limit that was 26 lakh.
#7. How will the hindrances for traders be minimized?
The tariff barriers will be minimized to prevent harassment of traders, just as the goods will be inspected only once during the transit. The only exception will be in case any specific information on tax evasion is traced. Furthermore, the transporter can complain over the portal, in case his cargo is detained for more than 30 minutes.
These are some of the newly implemented reforms under new E-way bill system that will not only rule out the previous impediments but will also yield complete benefit of GST registration to the government and taxpayers.
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