Staff strength at only 50%, says officers’ body

Direct tax collection may fall short by Rs 15,000 crore due to manpower shortage, the Income-Tax Gazetted Officers Association apprehends.

Suggesting filling up nearly 1,350 additional posts of Group A officers by promoting Group B Income Tax Officers, A. Sitarama Rao, President of the Association, said, “With just 50 per cent of the sanctioned strength of these commissioners, how on earth will the Government narrow its gap between revenue and expenditure to 4.8 per cent in 2013-14 and three per cent by 2016-17?”

At a press conference here on Thursday, the Association said the problems were two-fold. First, the effective strength of the additional posts at certain levels will be much less than projected. Second, the direct recruitment process will take time.

Income Tax Gazetted Officers are basically promotees and account for nearly 15 per cent of total workforce in the department. After spending years as officers, they are promoted to the post of Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax and Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax.

The Association claims that these two ranks alone collect 80-85 per cent of total direct taxes.

According to its back-of-the-envelop calculation, the targeted working strength at the level of Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax and Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax will be reduced to 1,528 against the sanctioned strength of 2,914.

The Association’s statement comes after the Government has approved creating over 20,000 additional posts (Group A – 1,349, Group B – 2,064 and Group C – 17,338) in the Income Tax Department as part of cadre restructuring.

It was said that the move would generate additional revenue of over Rs 25,750 crore a year against additional expenditure of nearly Rs 450 crore annually.

However, the Association feels that even this additional revenue will not be possible, apart from shortfall in the Budget target of Rs 6.68 lakh crore.

The Income Tax Department plans to appoint 270 Group A officers a year for five years. Half of these will be through direct recruitment and half through promotion.

According to the Association, considering that the Union Public Service Commission (agency responsible for recruitment of Group A officers at Central Government level) cannot commence its recruitment process before February 2014, only 270 vacancies are likely to be filled by way of promotions. The corresponding 270 direct recruitment vacancies in 2013-14 and 2014-15 will actually be available only after two years.

Direct tax includes income, corporate, securities transaction and wealth tax. During April-June, gross direct tax collection rose to Rs 1.24 lakh crore against Rs 1.11 lakh crore during same period last fiscal.

shishir.sinha@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 18, 2013)
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