The GST Council announced an early rollout of electronic-way bill at its 24th meeting today. The all-powerful panel of state ministers chaired Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had an urgent meeting through video conferencing to discuss implementation of e-way bill system under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
The GST Council reviewed the status of the hardware and software framework required for implementation of the e-way bill system. Following this, in consultation with the states, it was decided that the nationwide e-way bill system will be available on trial basis from January 16, 2018 for traders and transporters to use voluntarily.
The rules governing the compulsory implementation of the e-way bill system across India for inter-state movement of goods will be notified on February 1, 2018. These regulations will be meant to bring uniformity across states for seamless inter-state movement of goods, the government statement mentioned. During the 22nd monthly GST Council meeting in October, Jaitley had declared that the e-way bill be introduced across India in a staggered manner from January 1, 2018 and the document will be made compulsory by April 1, 2018.
Although the national e-way bill system will be available from January 16, states can choose their own dates earlier than June 1, 2018 for rolling out e-way bill. "There are certain 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 by 1st June, 2018," a government statement said.
Earlier, states were authorised to continue their own separate e-way bill systems till the time one such system on a national-scale was ready. However, representations from transporters and traders called for rollout of a national e-way system at the earliest as its absence was causing hindrances in inter-state movement of goods.
An e-way bill is required for movement of goods worth more than Rs 50,000. Under the GST regime, transporters will have to procure e-way bill from the GST Network portal when hauling goods worth more than Rs 50,000, within or outside a state. Provisions regarding the e-way bill were finalised in August earlier this year. The objective is to streamline movement of goods across and inside state borders and keep track of inter- and intra-state goods transport to check tax evasion.
To generate an e-way bill, the supplier and transporter will have to enter details of the haul in the GSTN portal. This will create an unique e-way bill number which will be sent to the supplier, transporter and the receiver. The e-way bill thus generated will be valid for a period of 15 days, with one day of travelling for 100 km and 15 days for more than 1,000 km transit.