States remove barriers at borders, issue advisory for smooth truck movement

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Several states including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have dismantled border check posts with the advent of Goods and Services Tax (GST), reducing some hassles for trucks that often queued up for hours to clear the biggest hurdle in the movement of goods within the country.

While others such as BJP-ruled Assam are yet to pull down the barriers at the state borders, in a letter to superintendent of taxes, the state authorities have said that the check-posts will remain in place only till July 5. Bihar and Madhya Pradesh too have announced that they are doing away with the border check posts even as the states await Electronic Way Bills, which will make truck movement easier.

States have, in the meantime, sent out fresh advisories to the field officers to ensure that goods are not held up and the new rules are implemented. Assam and Uttar Pradesh have asked its officials to check the GST Identification Number, along with the invoice number, consignment notes (or bilti), tax invoice and registration of the logistic firm.

But the message is clear: truckers should not be hassled. In fact, in a one-page advisory to its field officers, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has clearly said that no goods or vehicles should be stopped due to technical shortcomings. It has also clarified that many businesses are operating on provisional IDs from the GST Network, which are as good as full-fledged registration.

Assam, which will soon come out with an “inward permit” system, has asked its officers to ensure that trucks that had started their journey prior to July 1, had documents that complied with the provisions of the VAT regime. For inbound vehicles, the officials have been advised to check the GSTIN of the consignor and consignee besides the consignment note. For outbound cargo, they need to check dispatch notes and bill of sale, to name a few.

It may take some time for the dust to settle and many follow up actions also may be needed. But, it is sure, GST is certainly going to prove a game changer in the long run.

Despite the clarification, industry representatives said that bookings by goods transport agents had come down in recent days as they were unsure of the documents that were needed. They, however, are silent on the fact that several companies have suspended taking fresh orders till they finish updating their systems to be GST-compliant. “In Tamil Nadu, flying squads or tax enforcement squads have become more active since the border check posts have been removed. That has created more fear in the minds of transporters as they are indiscriminately checking trucks,” said SP Singh of IFTRT, a Delhi-based think-tank.

The E-way bill with digital system on GSTN is expected to be introduced over the next five-six months and expected to aid movement of trucks.

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