E-way bill generation slackens in November post festive season spur

The pace of e-way bill generation slackened in the first half of November against the previous month, signalling a possible slowdown in demand and likely pointing to the fragility of a sharp recovery seen in the festive season.

About 24.1 million e-way bills were generated in the first half, with the daily average at 1.72 million. The full month is likely to see around 52 million e-way bills, and experts said the situation needs to be monitored carefully as e-way bill generation is a proximate indicator of Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection.

“The data so far suggests that the full month numbers may not be quite as high as October. We will have to be cautious and watchful to ascertain whether this fall in e-way bills is indicative of waning in the pent-up demand post the festive season, or from the higher number of holidays in the early part of November,” Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ratings agency ICRA, told ET.

An e-way bill is required for transportation of goods worth more than Rs 50,000. It is considered one of the key metrics of estimating business activity and economic growth.

In October, 73.5 million e-way bills were generated, the highest ever number, marking a 14.5% growth on-year and 39% increase compared to the pre-pandemic October 2019 level.

In terms of value, the e-way bills generated touched Rs 21.2 lakh crore in October 2021, 9.4% higher than the previous month. It was 26.3% more than the October 2020 level and 49% higher than that in October 2019.

The data pointed to resurgent economic activity amplified by the festive season.

In tandem with e-way bill figures of the previous months, October’s GST collections rose to their second-highest level of Rs 1.30 lakh crore, from Rs 1.17 lakh crore in September.

However, a slump appears to be forming as per the initial e-way bill generation for November, according to data from the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN).

The upward trend of e-way bills had continued since July, when 64.1 million bills were generated, with a daily average of 2.06 million, followed by the generation of 65.8 million bills in August, with a daily average of 2.12 million.

While the daily average for September was higher at 2.26 million, the total number of bills generated stood at 67.9 million.

The GST collections for September were higher than the Rs 1.12 lakh crore recorded in August and Rs 1.16 lakh crore in July.

(The one-stop destination for MSME, ET RISE provides news, views and analysis around GST, Exports, Funding, Policy and small business management.)

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