Throwing light on the current situation
All the nations of the world including India are struggling against the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 causing lockdowns and house arrests worldwide. The same has brought a potential halt to businesses around the world.
The governments have restricted the movement of people and even goods in order to prevent the virus from spreading. People are asked to stay inside their homes, transportation is banned, shops, markets, malls & all other crowded places are forced to shut.
Even offices, factories, construction etc. are on hold till the situation is under control. This has wreaked havoc on the economy at large. With people locked inside their homes and all the vendors shutting down, revenue generation is impossible.
Businesses are facing heavy losses due to the termination of movements and import/export of goods. Only the movement of essential goods like food and personal hygiene etc. are allowed currently.
Even in such difficult times, businesses must comply with GST and its provisions. Although relief and leniency has been offered by the government to the businesses, they must comply with the basic rules in all situations.
Role of e-Way Bill in the context of Lockdown
The government has provided various relief to the businesses and taxpayers amidst the pandemic for the movement of goods, given that the taxpayers keep the GSTN in the loop of all transactions at all costs.
e-Way Bill generation helps to meet this requirement efficiently apart from other documents like credit notes, invoices and delivery challans. The e-Way Bill is a great tool to keep the government in the loop of all the transactions. More transparency between businesses and the government is better for the former as it ensures that the transactions are legitimate, honest and not fraudulent.
As a relief measure, goods that are exempted from GST Filing need not generate e-Way Bills for their transportation, such as food and pharmaceuticals. Although the same shall not apply to non-essential goods & businesses must withhold the movement of such goods.
Stranded goods at unknown locations on account of Lockdown
Due to the sudden announcement of the lockdown, many businesses were puzzled and went into a state of panic. The government had only allowed the movements of essential goods & has put the rest at a halt.
However, some vehicles started their journey before the announcement of the lockdown and were in-transit when the lockdown was enforced. Such Vehicles got stranded at several state borders across the country.
Vehicles could not move or could only cover a small distance due to various reasons such as interception by the police, the closing of state borders and even at the location of the recipient who could not receive the goods on account of the lockdown as their offices are closed.
Now, an e-Way Bill comes with an expiry date. In multiple cases, the e-Way Bills have already expired. Certain goods also tend to go stale or non-usable if stranded for the long term. This brings loss for the businesses. Hence, to tame the situation up to some extent the government has provided certain relief measures.
Most likely the goods are stuck at unknown locations in-transit, at recipient’s locations, state borders and transport hubs. In all the 4 situations listed above, the party that initiated the movement of the goods, must either try to arrange a proper halting-place for the goods, such as transport hub or in the premises of the recipient if they are not able to unload the goods.
If the supplier fails to do so, they can call their goods back by generating Credit Notes, new Delivery Challan and new e-Way Bills. In such cases, the goods can get stuck again at check-posts or state borders. For this, the owner of the good has no other options but to present government permits, circulars and notifications.
The owner of the goods must use the measures mentioned above to at least secure their good if not get them back. Better relief measures are expected from the government in future dates if the lockdown gets extended further.
Extension of the e-Way Bill Validity
The government has taken a crucial initiative to ease the transportation process to some extent, i.e. the validity of all the e-Way Bills that were supposed to expire between March 20th & April 15th have been extended to April 30th.
This is a big relief for the Businesses who were struggling with their consignments being struck in the middle of the 2 locations. Now the movement of the goods can be resumed.
On being intercepted, the transporter can present the e-Way Bill and it may ease up the process up to some extent, although the normalcy of the process cannot completely be restored unless the pandemic is completely over.
To conclude, it is appropriate to say that no matter what, the process of transportation cannot be completely restored to its normal state as of now, and might continue to face some problems.
The government is trying to be lenient on the account of the delicate nature of the situation, by not levying strict penalties and by providing relief measures.
But due to the lockdown situation, a lot of aspects of the country have crumbled down such as economy, fuel supply etc. Incidentally, the biggest lockdown to date has caused chaos in various fields. And the people have no other option but to comply with it.
In such conditions, advisably, the people must not panic, create confusion or believe in rumours and must do their part with discretion. The pandemic was an unforeseen event and thus there is no specific solution to deal with it but to stay sane and to make wise decisions.
e-Way Bill generation through Cloud
Due to the lockdown, companies and offices are all on halt, although the world doesn’t completely stop spinning. e-Way Bill remains to be a mandatory document and non-compliance without a valid reason can still attract penalties and seizure.
e-Way Bills can also be generated through APIs and GSPs or GST Suvidha Providers. GSTHero, one such GSP, is a cloud-based software solution provider authorized by the Government of India.
It also offers a multi-user option which means multiple users can access the data & generate e-Way Bills from anywhere at any time.
GSTHero provides Plug-ins & Integrations with the Billing system or the ERP to make the process short and simple, which would include fewer steps and fewer trips to the e-Way Bill Portal.
GSTHero completely eliminates the use of JSON File. Bulk generate, edit, cancel and consolidate e-Way Bills from within the ERP itself. The software is robust; 100% secure and ISO certified for data security. Meanwhile, the dedicated support team provides excellent and prompt after-sales support and training.
GSTHero Software Solution is an effective tool for a better and smoother e-Way Bill operation process and helps businesses in better compliance.
This article has been authored by Prachi W. She is a researcher and writer from the field of core Finance & Indirect Taxation, with writing experience in the field of Individual & business taxes. She has been into the taxation field for more than 2 years and in the field of writing for over 3 years. She researches & analyses the latest trends in GST & Business Taxes to write detailed and perceptive articles about them. She is observant & is an active chess player. She is currently contributing her work for the GST Solution Provider ‘GSTHero‘.