E-way billing hurdle for smooth movement of goods: Kashmir Inc

Tenga said the chamber had recently informed the former finance minister Syed AltafBukhari that e-way billing in its present form is unsuitable for Kashmir.

SAQIB MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 21 2018 1:15AM | Updated Date: Jun 21 2018 1:15AM
E-way billing hurdle for smooth movement of goods: Kashmir IncRepresentational Pic

The recently introduced electronic or e-way billing system is causing hurdles to smooth supply of merchandise to and within Kashmir due to certain policy level lacunas,  local trade and transport bodies said. 

They said lack of basic infrastructure and frequent internet shutdowns in Kashmir are some of the hurdles for smooth implementation of the new system.  Besides, they blamed the 10-day expiry date for transportation upto 1,000 km under the e-way billing system as a big hurdle, which needs “to do away with”.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir, president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Javed Ahmed Tenga  said e-Way bill which is now necessary for inter and intra state movement of goods with value of more than Rs 50,000 does not take into consideration the logistical constraints and fragile situation of Kashmir.

"Since the e-way bill is applicable for movement of goods to be transported for more than 50 kilometers, local traders are bound to suffer due to the frequent internet shutdowns," Tenga said. “Our economy has received several blows in the recent past out of which trade and commerce are the biggest casualties. In presence of restrictions on web access every now and then, how does one expect a small trader to generate e-way bill?” he asked. 

Tenga said the chamber had recently informed the former finance minister Syed AltafBukhari that e-way billing in its present form is unsuitable for Kashmir.

“KCCI is in process of preparing the feedback with regard to the implementation of the e-way bill. We are making several suggestions for the GST council on how the e-way bill could be made more suitable for Kashmir,” he said.  

Chief spokesperson of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, FarhanKitab said considering Kashmir’s geographical location, e-way bill generated for goods coming to Kashmir should not have an expiry date.  Kitab said the frequent closure of the Jammu-Srinagar highway due to inclement weather could adversely affect the worthiness of the e-way billing system.

“Since the highway remains closed for days during winter, there is a chance that goods that often take 10-15 days to reach us after booking the orders in this case will result in e-way bill getting expired. Setting up of the e-way bill expiry is not acceptable,” Kitab said. “Imagine a trucker stuck on the highway whose e-way bill gets expired. Even if the transporter who is facilitating the movement of goods generates a new e-way bill, the question is who and how would the bill be delivered to the truck driver when the traffic movement on the highway is suspended,” Kitab said.

Similarly, Kashmir-based transporters have also expressed concern about the e-way billing system. Goods Carrier Transporters Association, president, Muhammad SidiqRonga told Greater Kashmir that truckers on the way to Kashmir are being  unnecessarily penalised by the taxation officials for undervaluing of goods, when they have nothing to do with that. 

“We accept goods consignments from traders which are packed and we are not aware about the actual number and value of goods as compared to the declaration made by the traders. Tax officials on the way to Kashmir off-late have been catching hold of truck drivers and penalising them for under valuing which by no means is our violation,” Ronga said. “If traders have already generated e-way bill what is the need for transporters to do so,” Ronga said.

President, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation, Muhammad Yasin Khan said the basic idea of implementing GST in Kashmir was flawed which "robbed Valley of its economic independence". "While measures such as e-way bill are aimed to make trade transparent we out rightly reject any economic policy measures which does not take into consideration special position of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Businessmen involved with the fertiliser trade have demanded exemption of fertilisers from e-Way billing saying  issuing of e-way bills is not practically possible from rail head due to lack of infrastructure such as covered shed, electricity, sitting space etc.

“The rake containing almost 4,000 metric ton fertiliser is to be cleared within 10 hours from railway yard.  To move 4,000 MT fertiliser almost 300 trucks are required. It is herculean task to prepare all documents especially e-way bill within very short time for these companies,” said managing director of The Kashmir Apex Agriculture Cooperative Society, Tahir Wani. “Delay in supply chain of fertiliser due to late billing could lead to chaos during peak demand season affecting fertiliser availability in time to farmers,” Wani said. “Considering these practical problems being faced in fertiliser supply and distribution system, state of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have already exempted fertiliser movement from e-way bill,” he added.

When contacted, commissioner of commercial taxes, Shamim Ahmad Wani said

to ensure that internet shutdowns does not cause problems for traders, a provision of generating e-way bill via short messaging service (SMS) is being introduced.

“We are constantly working towards making e-ay billing more trade friendly to ensure that there is an alternative to internet for generating an e-way bill. For intra-state goods movement there is a provision to increase the limit from existing 50 km to 100 km. We are making efforts to get feedback from trading community with regard to e-way billing,” Wani said.

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