E-way bills under GST get mixed signals from logistics players

The Hindu Business Line By MAMUNI DAS April 17

New Delhi, April 17:
The proposed electronic way bill under the goods and services tax regime (GST) has evoked a mixed reaction from from logistics players, who expect challenges in operationalising it in its present form in the short run. However, they agree that ultimately this would lead to easier funds flow.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) put out a proposal on e-way bill, as a part of easing inter-State traffic movement under the GST regime.

“The proposed e-way bill in the GST regime will put an additional layer of documentation by way of prior online registration of the consignment for transporting shipments exceeding Rs. 50,000. The objective of the GST is to bring a lot of ease in doing business.

“However, the requirement of securing e-way bill for inspection by GST officials in transit seems a dilution, as this is likely to lead to interception of vehicles in all inter-State and intra-State movement of goods,” said K Satyanarayana, Co-founder and Director, Ecom Express Private Ltd.

Ecom Express said that unforeseen circumstances leading to transfer of goods from one vehicle to another may nullify the earlier e-way bill and transporters would have to create a new e-way bill on the GSTN portal before moving ahead.

In case of third party logistics providers, for consignment value exceeding Rs. 50,000, the sender as well as the transporter will have to upload details to generate an e-way bill, Satyanarayana added.

Furthermore, Ecom Express had concerns on the rigid timelines regarding e-way bills as emergencies can arise in the course of transport, triggering delays in transit beyond the specified number of days leading to tracking etc.

The unorganised nature of the logistics sector will make it difficult for players to adopt electronic-way bills, as proposed by CBEC, as the country readies to migrate to the GST regime, Mayur Gandhi, CFO, Schenker India, told BusinessLine.

“There will be less manual intervention leading to less errors and much clearer documentation. Also, there will be challenges as the sector is unorganised. E-way bill, which is in proposal form, should be implemented after two years as that would be the time taken after GST,” he said.

But some aspects of the e-way bill were welcomed.

Chander Agarwal, Managing Director, TCIEXPRESS, said the provision will benefit the government and transporters.

“While it allows government to keep a tab on the movement of goods to be transported, it will also allow transporters to file a complaint if the vehicle is detained for a period exceeding 30 minutes. The e-way bill portal allows the transporter, supplier and the recipient to be on a single platform through which tracking of goods will be enabled through Radio Frequency Identification,” Agarwal said.

“As an organised player we believe also that this move by the government will help to help regularise the unorganised sector as well as curb malpractices,” said Agarwal.

Jugnoo, a start-up, welcomed e-way bills and even said it was planning to launch “something in this domain”. “Recommendation of e-way bills for inter-State movement of goods is a remarkable initiative as it will enable standardisation of processes and bring transparency in the system. This proposal has immense potential to completely root out the corrupt practices in this sector,” Samar Singla, CEO and Founder, Jugnoo said.

Anjani Mandal, CEO and co-founder, 4TiGO, another start up, said: “The advance declaration of goods being carried to authorities creates the platform and grounds for "low-risk" consignments to be treated differently and let through all check-posts.”

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