The central government is looking at backup options to introduce the electronic way (e-way) bill in a phased manner. It was to be implemented from February 1, but the Centre had to defer it indefinitely as businesses faced disruptions after the portal crashed.
The bill, said sources, can now be introduced after safeguard options are installed for the portal’s smooth working.
In January, the Goods and Services Tax Council decided to advance the introduction of the bill from February 1 for interstate movement of goods valued above Rs 50,000 from the earlier April 1. It gave freedom to states to introduce the bill for intrastate movement of goods beyond 10 km by July 1. However, 13 states had volunteered to implement the bill for intrastate movement of goods from February 1 itself.
Given the wide applicability of the e-way bill system, ClearTax Chief Executive Officer Archit Gupta said its stability and performance are critical to its compliance. “The Centre may consider launching it first for interstate movement of goods. It should also allow more time for load testing and stability by users, and relax case rules for easier movement until a full-fledged system is made available,” he said. He also wanted the application programming interface to be made available to Suvidha providers.
A tax expert said the implementation should be done in a staggered manner. For the first six months, only those transporting goods above Rs 200,000 will be required to generate the bill and subsequently lower the floor. Also, intrastate movement of goods should happen later.
National Informatics Centre, which is developing the e-way bill system, is learnt to have asked for 15 days’ time from the finance ministry to address the glitches.
M S Mani, partner, Deloitte India, said it would be prudent to go for a phased introduction of the bill. He said all software and hardware issues must be ironed out before the bill is made mandatory for businesses.