The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has raised objections to the cadre restructuring proposal of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), delaying a resolution to the acute manpower crisis affecting the indirect tax administration, which is struggling to collect 20% more revenue from central excise, customs and service tax this year from a year ago. CBEC has a revenue target of Rs 5.6 lakh crore this fiscal, 46% of the Centre's gross tax revenue.
The annual growth in indirect tax collections has come down sharply since 2011-12. It is reckoned that in addition to the economic slowdown, the CBEC's human resource crunch has also hit the collection drive. CBEC's demand for more secretary-level posts and field officers to bolster its revenue collection drive is now likely to be referred to a committee of secretaries or to a group of ministers for further review instead of being placed before the cabinet for approval as expected earlier.
With 68,000 personnel at different levels, CBEC has only two thirds of its sanctioned strength at present. The tax research unit (TRU), a vital part of the CBEC, has about 12 vacancies at the moment. Officers said vacancies that arise from retirement are not being filled because the cadre recast proposal aimed at adding another 20,000 personnel was under consideration.
“To meet the fiscal deficit target, it is desirable to raise revenue, not cut productive expenditure. If revenue collection lags, public borrowing goes up,” said a person familiar with the development. The Centre will borrow Rs 4.84 lakh crore (net) this fiscal.
What has triggered a review is DoPT's questions on the proposal to promote non-IRS officers at the fag end of their career to IRS rank. CBEC had suggested creating about 4,000 temporary assistant commissioner-level posts to be filled by way of promoting group B (non-IRS) officers from the rank below.