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What Record E-Way Bills In August Mean For September GST Collections

In August, the number of e-way bills generated touched 9.3 crore, beating the previous record in March at 9.1 crore.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Representational image. (Source: BQ Prime)</p></div>
Representational image. (Source: BQ Prime)

Festive season preparations have pushed up e-way bill collections to a record high in August, and this may translate into a likely boost for September GST collections as well, according to experts.

In August, the number of e-way bills generated touched 9.3 crore, beating the previous record in March at 9.1 crore.

Rise in e-way bills, which represent the movement of goods across state borders, usually lends to a commensurate rise in GST collections of the following month. This can also be noted in the GST revenue figures of March 2023 (representing April collections), which came up to Rs 1.87 lakh crore, benefitting from a fiscal-ending boom.

GST figures are released with a lag of one month. Therefore, one month's collections reflect revenue collected over the previous month.

Divakar Vijayasarathy, founder and chief executive officer at DVS Advisors, agreed that the increase in e-way bill generation augurs well for GST collections.

The growth of the Index for Industrial Production in July could have added to the trend, he said. "The IIP grew at 5.7% in the month of July, the same would have translated into higher shipments in the month of August. Though the festive season is yet to reach its peak, it has already started in certain parts with Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi. The increase in e-way bill generation also indicates the stocking of goods before the festive season."

Despite major festivities in the month of September and beyond, August's e-way bills are in line with the usual movement indicating inventory stock-piling—that is usually led by white goods—across the country ahead of festivities, according to a GST official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Another reason contributing to the rise in e-way bill generation could also be a change in the e-invoicing norms, according to Bipin Sapra, indirect tax leader and partner at EY.

Starting Aug. 1, e-invoices were mandated for business-to-business supply of goods/services or for exports where the GST taxpayer's aggregate annual turnover exceeded Rs 5 crore in any fiscal. Prior to this, the e-invoicing turnover limit was at Rs 10 crore.

Reading into other economic indicators like PMI—which indicates the business activity both in the manufacturing and services sectors—Sapra said that it indicates an upward movement in the second quarter thereby hinting at economic expansion and growth as compared with the first quarter. This would lend to more e-way bill generation in the future, he said.

"... with the increased amount of boost being given to various sectors in the form of incentives for setting up businesses and manufacturing facilities, the economic activity is definitely going to increase, thereby promising an increased PMI coupled with an increasing CPI. Given the increased economic activity, it would not be incorrect to expect the EWB generation to increase in the near future," he told BQ Prime.

An analysis over the next 2-3 months will reveal how much of August's e-way bill generation was due to the lowering of the e-invoicing limit, the official quoted above said. However, it does bode well for Q2 revenue collections, comfortably placing GST collections to achieve its budgetary target, the person said.

For FY24, the government has targeted raising Rs 9.56 lakh crore from GST, an 11.9% rise from the revised estimates of Rs 8.54 lakh crore in the last fiscal. The total indirect tax collections are estimated to be Rs 15.29 lakh crore in FY24.

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