Intra-state rollout of E-way bills soon

The Economic Times By ET Bureau Apr 03, 2018, 06.46 AM IST

Adhia said the system has the capacity to take on additional load and the rollout schedule for the intrastate movement of goods will be announced soon.

The government may soon announce the rollout schedule for electronic way bills in intra-state sales under the goods and services tax regime, buoyed by the smooth implementation of the system for inter-state movement on April 1.

The government is also confident of meeting the revised fiscal deficit target for FY18 following improved direct and indirect tax collections. February GST collections rose to over Rs 89,264 crore, up from Rs 88,047 crore in January. It ruled out any cut in excise duty to ease the recent spike in fuel prices.

“E-way rollout has been successful —there is no glitch so far,” finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia said on Monday. A total of 28.9 million eway bills were generated on Monday against 25.9 million on Sunday, the first day of the nationwide rollout of the framework that’s expected to help check tax evasion.

The e-way bill system had collapsed when it was first introduced in trials in February, forcing the government to defer its implementation. In the first phase, e-way bills have been introduced only for interstate movement.

Adhia said the system has the capacity to take on additional load and the rollout schedule for the intrastate movement of goods will be announced soon.

The e-way bill is a kind of permit for the transport of goods exceeding Rs 50,000 in value. It provides details of the items being transported and where they’re headed. It is generated using the GST Common Portal by registered persons or transporters moving the goods. Just before its rollout, the government had announced new rules making the process easier besides providing a few relaxations.

“Hourly rate for generation of e-way bill is 60,000 per hour… We are also prepared with higher capacity,” said GSTN chairman Ajay Bhushan Pandey.

He said a total of 1.12 million taxpayers have registered on e-way bill portal and 20,057 transporters have enrolled.

Pandey said 100 agents are available on call to attend to queries of users. Separately, state tax authorities have also set up help desks in local languages.

Abhishek Jain, tax partner at EY India, said the system will face further tests in the coming days.

“Day two of the e-way bill portal was largely smooth. But the real load test is still to be seen as the volume of e-way bills generated on day two as well were low because of year-end procedures like stock counting,” he said. “Also, the department has deployed anti-evasion squads for checking e-way bills, which if it becomes too frequent would entail undue bottleneck in the movement of goods.”

TAX COLLECTION

Adhia said the government will meet the fiscal deficit target for the year.

“This was a year of uncertainty, but we have met both direct and indirect taxes collections estimates and we will be meeting the fiscal deficit target for the year,” Adhia said.

Economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg tweeted: “With almost all of revenues and expenditure accounted for (some minor accounting adjustments remaining), I can confirm that both fiscal deficit and revenue deficit are lower than the revised estimates for 2017-18.”

The fiscal deficit target for FY18 was revised to 3.5% of GDP from 3.2% estimated initially. The fiscal deficit of Rs 7.15 lakh crore for the April-February period was 120.3% of the budgeted target for the current fiscal year, prompting concerns that the target may not be met.

The government has exceeded the Budget estimate for direct taxes collections at Rs 9.95 lakh crore and is hopeful of meeting the revised estimate of Rs 10.05 lakh crore as more data on tax deposits pour in, said Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Sushil Chandra.

Adhia said the government would be able to meet the indirect tax target as well with GST collections on track.

“GST collections have been on the upswing,” Adhia said.

The government has so far collected Rs 7.18 lakh crore in the August-March period as per revised numbers besides Rs 27,811 crore collected as integrated GST and cess on imports in March. GST was rolled out on July 1.

The finance secretary said final GST collection numbers are typically better than provisional ones, which don’t reflect total collections as some revenues come in later.

February GST collections are up from Rs 85,174 crore in the first estimate. GST refunds of 17,616 crore have been given till now. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs had carried out a special drive to clear pending GST refunds of exporters in the fortnight ended March 31.

OIL DUTY

The government ruled out any immediate reduction in excise duty to cushion the rise in international oil prices that have sent retail diesel rates in India to a record and petrol to a four-year high.

Asked if a second round of excise duty cuts was in the offing, Adhia said: “Not as of now. Whenever we review it, we will let you know.” The government had last cut excise duty in October by Rs 2 per litre.

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