Everyone’s fingers are crossed that the e-way bill portal, which now has over 20,000 registered transporters and 11 lakh taxpayers, will hold up, going forward. It is important to note that since the system for tracking inter-State movement of goods was launched at the beginning of a financial year, the actual load that the portal will have to bear on a normal business day may be much higher than the initial trends. This is because many businesses had already moved and stocked up goods by March 31, ahead of the system kicking in, and are still completing usual year-end processes such as recording closing stock.
A staggered schedule for rolling out e-way bills for intra-State trade in a few States at a time is expected soon. Given that India’s transport sector is still largely unorganised and many vehicle drivers are not fully conversant with the technical nuances, it is important that anti-evasion squads deployed to check e-way bills operate with a light touch to start with, and limit the frequency of inspections for goods moving across States. Else, the system could end up creating a bottleneck for transporting goods in a country where goods movement already takes inordinately long due to infrastructure deficiencies.
A similar approach would be ideal for other anti-evasion measures in the pipeline, including the matching of invoices from buyers and sellers, and the reverse-charge mechanism (expected by June-end) under which large businesses would need to pay tax on behalf of unregistered small suppliers.