The trial run for the e-way bill — an electronic mechanism for tracking transportation of goods under the goods and services tax — began on Tuesday with 11 states participating. The system, which is expected to plug revenue leakages currently plaguing indirect tax revenue collection, will become mandatory for all states from February 1. Generating an e-way bill will now be mandatory for all interstate movement of goods beyond 10 km and a value of more than Rs 50,000. Although the GST Council had earlier deferred the introduction of the e-way bill to April, reports of widespread tax evasion amid declining GST revenue collections appear to have forced it to advance the launch by two months. “The e-way bill can be generated either by the supplier, recipient or transporter of goods through various modes including online at the GST Network portal, android mobile app, SMS and API (application programming interface)-based site to site integration,” GST Network (GSTN) said in a statement. GSTN runs the IT backbone for GST and will also provide services for the e-way bill.
The mechanism will ensure that transporters and other taxpayers will not be required to visit any tax office or check-post, GSTN CEO Prakash Kumar said. Kumar added that tax inspectors might conduct random checks to confirm if a particular consignment has been registered on the portal or not. This, he added, can be confirmed through an SMS sent to the portal in areas with poor internet connectivity. Four states — Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Kerala — had already started using e-way bills. Seven more states including Haryana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Goa signed up on Friday. “To prevent delays at check points the GST inspectors at check points should have instant electronic access to verify the e-way bill and they should be instructed not to do physical checks which can be onerous and time-consuming and lead to delays in transportation of goods,” said Atul Gupta, senior director, Deloitte India. GSTN said its portal will allow generation of multiple e-way bills for a single transporter carrying more than one consignment. “There is provision for cancellation of e-way bill within 24 hours by the person who generated it,” GSTN said. It added the recipient can reject the e-way bill within 72 hours of generation. The validity of the e-way bill is fixed as one day for every 100 km.