Sushil Modi pitches for error-free e-way bill

Ahead of the countrywide roll-out of the electronic way bill to plug revenue leakages in the goods and services tax regime, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi has flagged the need for an efficient troubleshooting mechanism to avoid disruptions, which industry apprehends.

Industry has argued the e-way bill will lead to significant documentation and logistic challenges.

In a letter to Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Modi has pitched for a glitch-free roll-out with a round-the-clock troubleshooting mechanism so that the movements of goods are not disrupted. Besides, he has recommended appointing a nodal officer to address hurdles in the functioning.

The revenue slowdown prompted the GST Council to call an urgent meeting on December 16 and advance the roll-out of the bill on inter-state movements of goods on February 1 and for intra-state carriage on June 1.

“We must take every care to ensure that the stakeholder-system interface is relatively glitch free and that the system is relatively glitch-free and the new system avoids causing disruptions that was evident on the rollout of GST, particularly filing of returns,” Modi said in the letter.

E-way bills will help the central and state tax authorities track inter-state and intra-state movements of goods that are part of consignments of Rs 50,000 or more. A tax commissioner or an officer empowered by him or her will be authorised to intercept any conveyance to verify the e-way bill or the number in physical form for all supplies.

The e-way bill system is being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), while the other IT matters related to the GST are being managed by the GST Network (GSTN), a private body.

An advance of Rs 400 million has been given to the NIC to implement the e-way bill mechanism.

Modi pointed out that “since the e-way bill is being developed by NIC while all other applications are being implemented by GSTN, national e-way bill will require efficient trouble shooting mechanism”. Besides, a round-the-clock centralised help desk must be set up before the system is rolled out.

It would be more important than resolving issues related to return filing or registration because problems related to verifying or generating e-way bills could “disrupt movement of goods”, he added.

Modi also recommended a standard operating procedure to deal with various situations that might arise.

Pratik Jain of PwC India said the bill could lead to supply chain bottlenecks if not properly implemented.