GST Council weighing options to reduce road blocks

With 20-odd state and central agencies that can stop trucks for checking, the GST Council is understood to be looking at alternatives to physical verification of documents in order to cut down the transit time of road cargo under the goods and services tax (GST).

GST, which subsumes a number of central and state level taxes, including central excise duty, service tax, value added tax as also octroi and entry tax, is intended to integrate markets across the country by lifting barriers to movement of goods and services and cutting down border check posts.

However, the proposed e-way bill under GST while allowing freedom from scrutiny by taxmen at border posts will still have to undergo  checks on transportation documents by road transport authorities and this could still delay movement of goods.

This is because the e-way bill does not stop officials of the RTO, VAT department, narcotics control department, pollution control and forest department from stopping trucks for checking.

An e-way bill is an online bill that will be used for inter-state supply of goods under GST. It will provide details of the consignor and the consignee as well as the origin and the destination of the cargo.

One way the road transport ministry suggested as alternative for physical verification of transportation documents is the use of 'Vahan'' and vehicle registration number databases as well as RFID tags to establish the identity of the vehicles and cut down on physical checks.

This, according to the ministry would not be a difficult issue as the number of vehicles detained with non-compliant documentation is less than one per cent although all vehicles on the roads are checked for documents.

The ministry of road transport and highways has suggested a joint meeting of the GST Council along with state transport ministers to find a way out.