Government eases GST e-way bill rules, defers rollout
New Delhi: The government has eased rules relating to the proposed e-way bill system to make the electronic permits required for shipping merchandise under the goods and services tax (GST) regime more acceptable to businesses and transporters. The revised rules released by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) on Wednesday make e-way bill requirements simpler on several counts and add some safety features to curb tax evasion.
The GST Council had to indefinitely defer the implementation of the e-way bill system after its 1 February rollout met with technical glitches.
As per the changes notified, businesses can exclude items that are exempt from GST from the value of the consignment for which an e-way bill is raised. In the revised rules, vehicle details will be required only in the case of goods movement beyond 50km, up from the earlier 10km. This is expected to help smaller businesses operating within a particular state, once e-way bills are enforced for intra-state movement as well.
As per the original plan, e-way bills were to be made compulsory on inter-state movement first, before being made applicable to intra-state movement. The GST Council will discuss a possible date of implementation on Saturday.
In a move expected to give relief to courier and e-commerce firms, the new rules say that no e-way bill is required in case of intra-state movement of goods by road in cases where the value of each consignment is less than Rs50,000 but aggregate consignment value in a vehicle is more than Rs50,000. According to M.S. Mani, partner, Deloitte India, the changes will make it easier for businesses to adopt the e-way bill system.
Pratik Jain, partner and leader of indirect tax at PwC, said that with these changes, e-way bill rules have become much simpler than earlier. “Exemption for smaller intra-state consignments and exclusion of value of exempt supplies for e-way bills would provide relief to a large segment of industry,” said Jain.
The e-way bill system is seen as a potent tool by policy makers to curb tax evasion. An industry observer said on condition of anonymity that collusion is prevalent between transporters in the unorganized sector and businesses which evade taxes by under-reporting the goods shipped. Truckers who are party to tax evasion by businesses charge a higher transportation fee.
According to P.C. Sharma, chief executive of TCI Express Ltd., a logistics firm, e-way bill is a move by the government to make the logistics sector organized and it will impact the sector’s operational efficiency. “E-way bill is a transformational move by the government which would benefit the organized sector as it will slowly weed out the unorganized segment which is a major revenue loss factor for the government. We believe this move will help regularize the unorganised sector as well as curb mal-practices,” said Sharma.
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