Recent GST Council's decisions not in national interest: IRS officers body

New Delhi: Citing deep anguish and feeling of dejection among them, an association of about 3,000 Indian Revenue Service officers today claimed that certain decisions taken recently by GST Council were not in national interest and they may have "serious implications" for government revenue and smooth implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) officers' association has also sought fair representation of their members in the GST Council which has representatives from central and state governments.

GST web portal screengrab

GST web portal screengrab

Claiming attempts by officers of state governments VAT departments to equate themselves with IRS (Customs and Central Excise) officers, the association asked the government not to wish away sanctity of their service.

Various such matters including the implementation of the GST were discussed during a meeting of the association held here yesterday under the chairmanship of its President Anup K Srivastava.

The GST Council had in its meeting on January 16, agreed to give states the power to levy tax on economic activity within 12 nautical miles of territorial waters.

Also, it was decided that the states will have the power to assess and administer 90 per cent of the tax payers under Rs 1.5 crore annual turnover, while the remaining would be controlled by the Centre.

"The decision to transfer much of the work related to the assessees below Rs 1.5 crore is not proper as it amounts to transferring the rightful assignment of IRS(C&CE) officers to Group B officers of states through an administrative arrangement. Revenue collection is an encadred assignment and officers are selected through Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) process.

"The sanctity of the same can not be wished away. Officers of states through cross-empowerment can not be effectively made into IRS(C&CE) officers without qualifying
the UPSC exam. Unless the distribution of assessee is done fairly, the issue would not get resolved," said a senior IRS officer, who attended the meeting.

All members of the service have expressed their deep anguish and concern over such decisions, he said.

The association has asked the Finance Ministry to look into the serious concerns of IRS(C&CE) to raise the morale of officers of such large cadre, the officers said.

"The prevailing feeling of dejection and anguish may have serious implications for government revenue and smooth implementation of GST," he said, citing the resolution of the association.

The GST Council, in the present form, has representatives from all the state as well as central governments through the Finance Minister.

"All have voting rights. However, the post of Secretary to the GST Secretariat, as well as Additional Secretary are IAS officers. The chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), the lone domain specialist is merely an invitee.

"Accordingly, the concerns of CBEC and indirect tax experts are not adequately represented in the GST Council leading to adverse decisions such as the one dated 16-1-2017. This anomaly needs to be corrected by appointing Secretary and Additional Secretary in the Council from an IRS officer," the officer said.

There are about 3,000 IRS (C&CE) officers working across the country.

The association has asked the Finance Minister and senior officers concerned of the Finance Ministry that they should immediately take up the serious concerns of IRS(C&CE) to raise the morale of officers of such a large cadre.

"The prevailing feeling of dejection and anguish may have serious implications for government revenue and smooth implementation of GST," he said.

The GST is likely to be rolled out from July 1, as against April 1 decided earlier by the government.

Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 20:03 PM

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