Finance Ministry asks GSTN to come out with foolproof e-way bill system

Glitches in the system derailed e-way bill system on the day of launch.


The finance ministry has sought a report from GSTN, the IT-backbone provider for GST, on glitches in the system that derailed the anti-tax evasion electronic way bill system on the very first day of launch.

It wants GST-Network to detail system readiness before re-introducing the requirement for transporters to carry an electronic waybill or e-way bill for moving goods between states, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI.

The e-way bill provision of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced yesterday but its implementation put on hold after system developed glitches in generating permits.

Adhia said there is no going back on e-way bill, which is a tool for preventing tax evasion, and it will be reintroduced in “next few weeks” after the system is fully ready. Under GST, e-way bill is an electronic way bill required for movement of goods more than Rs 50,000 in value and can be generated on the GSTN.

Report sought

Adhia said by deferring the implementation of the e-way requirement the government has shown to the industry that it is willing to accommodate their demands so that they do not suffer. “I have told AB Pandey (GSTN Chairman) to give an assessment of what went wrong, how much time would be required to set it (e-way bill system) right and make it fool proof,” Adhia said.

The e-way bill portal was developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and its implementation is being looked after by GSTN, the company which developed the IT backbone for the new indirect tax regime.

Adhia said states were “very insistent” on introducing e-way bill as early as possible and when the GSTN conducted trail runs the system was working well. “But, unfortunately when the load became too much some of the server started responding slowly and we didn’t want traders to suffer because of our technological glitches, so we said we will give few more days to the system to improve and this time we will make sure that there is no further glitch,” he added.

Deferred implementation

The e-way bill system was rolled out after GSTN conducted trial runs for a fortnight. However, it could not sustain the load and businesses faced difficulties on the rollout day. Following complaints, the government deferred its implementation.

Asked if the system would be put in place by the middle of this month, he said, “They (GSTN) will try to do it as early as possible, around that time (mid February). I want to make sure that this time there is no mistake. I have told already A B Pandey that he should ensure (that). ”

Adhia, who is also the Revenue Secretary, said that even as trial runs went off well, but when the load of a hefty 2–3 lakh e-way bill per hour was generated on the portal yesterday, the server suffered glitches.

“So, immediately we changed (deferred e-way bill implementation). Technology sometimes fails us, despite putting all the best people. But, we have taken care to see that trade does not suffer because of our mistake. So, we have immediately changed and said let’s take few more days, let’s recheck,” he added.

Adhia said states, which have already issued notification stating implementation of e-way bill from February 1, have to make required changes. Also, a decision on implementing intrastate e-way bill requirement will be taken based on GSTN’s response on settling the system.

The all-powerful GST Council had on December 16, 2017, decided to implement the e-way bill mechanism for intra-state movement of goods from June 1 and from February 1 for inter- state movement.