One might wonder about the reason of early implementation of E-Way Bill because initially the government had planned to introduce it from April 2018. But instead in the GST council meeting the E-way bill was re-visited and the rules for E-way bill in respect of inter-state movement of goods was amended.
It is has been notified that E-way Bill shall be mandatory for interstate movement of goods and the rules for the same shall be notified with effect from February 1, 2018 (Again postponed to a future date)
Benefits of E-Way Bill
GST E-Way bill will bring uniformity across states for seamless inter-state movement of goods. Ferrying goods across states may get quicker as there will be no check posts.
What is E-Way Bill?
The E-way bill is an electronically generated bill that accounts the movement of goods from one state to another. The bill has to be generated on the GSTN. Goods above Rs 50,000 cannot be transported by a registered person without generating an E-way bill. On generation of E-way bill, the parties to the consignment (viz, Supplier, recipient, and the transporter) will be allotted a unique E-way bill number (EBN) without which movement of goods cannot be carried out in the GST regime.
In the previously applicable laws we had something related to E-way bill but it was a nightmare for suppliers then because movement of goods couldn’t take place without obtaining the ‘waybills’ from VAT authorities. A waybill is a physical document that allows movement of goods. The compliance around waybills caused restricted movement of goods across states. But Post GST these way bills have been replaced with e-way bills which aims at mitigating the problems caused by waybill compliances.
While transporting goods worth more than Rs 50,000 within or outside a state, the supplier or transporter will be required to secure an electronic-way or E-way bill by prior online registration of the consignment. The supplier and transporter will have to upload details related to the consignment on the GST Network portal, after which a unique E-way bill number (EBN) will be made available to the supplier, the recipient and the transporter on the common portal.
Common portal is the GST Network portal that is also used for E-way bill registration and other particulars. So far we haven’t seen any separate module in GST Network model for E-way bill compliance. There is an on online platform apart from the GST Portal with the address- http:// ewaybill.nice.in. At present this portal is active for the states of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Kerala, Sikkim and Karnataka.
There are some states which are already having system of e-way bill for intra-state as well as inter-state movement and some of those states can be early adopters of national e-way Bill system for intra-state movement also. 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 from 1st June, 2018 only.
Challenge in Implementation
As long as the supplier and recipient are generating the E-way bill and supplying it to the transporter, I think it’ll be fine. The problem could be for semi-organized groups who are working from their homes and don’t have a good idea of how things need to be done. The problems they face may include wrong data being entered, not doing it on time, getting documents mixed up between transporters. They need to figure out the process by which they will not make mistakes like these, especially if they have multiple trucks. The truck driver will not be bothered about what the E-way bill says, but he will have a document set and go with it. One can believe that there will be a learning period wherein this will be figured out.
With E way bill mechanism on roll out the businesses have to be prepared with ERP systems that would equip the features of generating E-Way bill on the go. Because the process of generating E-Way bill is technology driven and without it the movement of goods will not be possible. At present we have online platform for generation of E-Way bills and it is proposed that the SMS method of generation of E-Way bills would be soon available before the cut off date of Feb 1. With few states that have organized their own online platform for generation of E-Way bills and the nation wide uniform E Way bill is getting worked up, we believe that the software companies would also come up to live to the expectations of taxpayers wherein once a bill is generated or prepared by the software, the E-Way bill is prepared simultaneously from the same software as well.