The Indian government has extended the validity of e-way bills that were due for expiry during the national COVID-19 lockdown to provide relief to transporters facing delays in the documentation. The government has also relaxed restrictions put on input tax credits to help companies struggling with cash crunch.
Electronic way (e-way) bill is an essential document generated electronically for transportation of goods in India under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. All goods priced above Rs50,000 need e-way bills for transportation. The validity period of e-way bills that expired between March 20 to April 15 has been extended till April 30, 2020. This will help speed up the movement of goods stuck across India due to lockdown. In the absence of valid e-way bills transporters are liable to be prosecuted and their goods and trucks can be withheld by the authorities.
In India steel making, mining and coal are placed under essential services. Although the government’s lockdown orders, permit transportation of non-essential goods and industries especially steel mills, are struggling with the shortage of raw material and the resulting inability to deliver finished goods. Road transportation is badly impacted by the lockdown with fewer trucks on the road and lack of clarity among local governments on whether to allow passage of non-essential goods. Transportation of minerals, coal and ferrous scrap is disrupted in many regions across India
To ease work capital and cash flow concerns faced by industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s central tax authority has deferred restrictive rules on input tax credit (ITC) for seven months from February till August. Companies would have to reconcile these credits while filing returns in September. In December, the GST Council had restricted ITC claimed by a company to 10pc of the eligible credit amount if its supplier had not uploaded the corresponding invoices. This rule was applicable from January to curb tax evasion.
Earlier, the government had extended due dates for GST return filings for March, April and May to last week of June, without any penalties. This is applicable for companies having annual turnover less than Rs5 crore. For companies with high turnover, late GST returns filing for the same period would attract a lower interest rate of 9pc on the amount due than the earlier 18pc per annum.