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Vacancies in apex tax bodies may hit mop-up efforts

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on August 13, 2014

Taxing time A file picture of the Income Tax Office in Coimbatore. Vacancies at the board level of the apex tax bodies add pressure on the existing members.

New appointments policy awaits clearance from PM’s Office

Amid high tax collection targets set by the Government, board-level vacancies in Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) are making things tough for the two tax bodies.

The Finance Ministry has set a target of 15.3 per cent for direct taxes (income tax, corporate tax, wealth tax and transaction taxes on securities & commodities).

For indirect taxes (custom duty, excise duty and service tax), the target is 25.8 per cent over the actual collection in 2013-14. CBDT provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes and is also responsible for administration of direct tax laws through the Income Tax Department. CBEC is responsible for formulation of policy relating to levy and collection of indirect taxes.

Both the boards have a required strength of seven each, i.e., Chairman and six members. However, CBDT currently has a Chairman and two members, with posts of four members lying vacant. CBEC is in a slightly better position with two posts out of six lying vacant.

“This situation has emerged as the new policy for appointments is awaiting approval from the Prime Minister’s Office for the last month and a half,” a senior Government official told BusinessLine.

Adding pressure

Less number of people at the apex level means more pressure on the remaining officials, affecting the board’s overall functioning.

“This is critical when you have a high target. For example, service tax collection needs to grow by 39.6 per cent, but there is no full-time member for service tax in the board. In fact, the member (central excise) is holding additional charge,” the official added.

The earlier policy was to prepare a panel of officials for one year and make appointments as and when a vacancy emerges.

But this policy led to many juniors superseding seniors in the empanelment. That is why the previous UPA Government had proposed changes in the policy, proposing preparation of a panel of officials as and when required.

However, the policy could not be formulated due to the general elections. Now, after taking charge, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has given his consent to the revised policy, which is now awaiting final approval from the PMO. Currently, the CBDT is headed by KV Chowdary, who holds additional charge as member (investigation) and member (personnel & vigilance). Similarly, the member (legislation and computerisation) Anita Kapur is holding additional charge as member (income tax). The member (revenue) Arun Kumar Jain has also given additional charge of member (audit and judicial).

CBEC is headed by JM Shanti Sundram. Member (budget) Kaushal Srivastava has been given addition charge of computerisation and vigilance, member (custom) Mala Srivastava holds additional charge of member (legislation and judicial) and member (central excise) Shashi Bhushan Singh holds additional charge as member (service tax). Only, member (personal) Joy Kumari Chander has no additional charge.

Published on August 13, 2014

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