Eight state governments on Thursday announced their pans to roll out the electronic way bill (e-way bill) mechanism for transport of goods within their territories by June 3, a move that would lead to pan-India implementation of the crucial ant-evasion system under the goods and services tax (GST). E-way bills are currently required for interstate movement of merchandise above a threshold value of Rs 50,000 and also for such intrastate transport in 29 states/union territories.
Generation of intrastate e-way bills will become mandatory for Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Odisha and Punjab on June 1. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal would implement the same on June 2 and 3, respectively.
An e-way bill contains details of origin and destination of cargo movement along with the specification of the vehicle carrying it. The measure is expected to plug revenue leakages. According to an estimate, nearly Rs 10,000 crore could be added to GST collections thanks to the mechanism. However, government officials said that the GST revenue collections for April may not reflect the impact of e-way bills as tax officials across states have been going slow on enforcement in the first month to allow taxpayers time to familiarise themselves with the system.
An analysis by FE showed there still existed a rather wide gap of between the budget estimate for central GST (CGST) collections for 2018-19 and the actual CGST revenue garnered thus far. On a monthly basis, the difference is at least around Rs 4,300 crore or 9%. Tax experts believe that the e-way bill system and the invoice-matching mechanism — which is delayed — would help boost compliance.
Two months after the roll-out of the e-way bill, few incidents have been reported of the merchandise in transit being intercepted for verification. While the fears of an “inspector raj” have been proved to be unfounded, some analysts caution that such issues could still surface as the tax department intensifies enforcement actions.