GST and Cadre Restructure- what ails CBEC?
JULY 31, 2010
By, M Ram Kumar
THANKS to TIOL for bringing out detailed account of proposed revamp in the organizational set up in CBEC as suggested by GST implementation Group. IN this modern electronic age communication of ideas is very important and for such a historic taxation reform it is better to suggest various views without prejudice to the Government move and the personnel involved.
TIOL has raised eye brow when it puts it – Are we dreaming. A humble attempt is made in this Article regarding promotional avenues vies – viz GST roll out.
Take an example of Kerala, to start with from a Southern most part of India. A large number of Officers in the Central Excise Commissionerate in Kerala have retired/will be retiring as Superintendents during the three years of 2009, 2010 and 2011. It is very unfortunate that many of those talented and efficient Officers were retiring only with a single promotion in their Career. Despite having started as Inspectors, even the best among them could do nothing to advance in their career beyond a limit. To put it simply, either the Department never gave them an opportunity to grow, or, they were under the compulsions of circumstances that were beyond their control. Given the conditions as it exists today, it will be hardly surprising, if this trend continues for many more years, drawing into its fold, many of the promising Officers of today. What is prevailing in Kerala will be the same all over India. Before revamp it is absolutely necessary to peep into the past.
A review of the background on this issue is inevitable. Till 1959, under the common Central Board of Revenue there were three separate Class I services for Central Excise, Customs & Income tax and all were known as IRS. The promotion policy was also different for each service. On the C.Ex side, the Group A (then Class I) JTS posts were filled up 50% by promotion and 50% by DR. On the Customs side only 25% was filled by promotion of Chief Inspector of Customs and Principal Appraiser from a combined seniority list; and 75% was by DR. There was no change for the promotion quota of respective cadres even after the common service of IC&CE was implemented from 15 th Aug 1959. In 1970,the posts of Chief Inspector and Principal Appraiser were abolished (added to the strength of ACs) and the feeder cadres for Group A were made the Appraiser and Customs Inspectors (present Superintendents of Customs) and the promotion quota also was made 50% open for all the three cadres. The first posting for DRs & Promotees were as ACs in the Custom Houses whereas in Central Excise they were posted as Senior Superintendents only. As per the decision taken in consultation with the staff associations in 1972, the policy adopted was to apportion the posts between various cadres according to the numerical strength of Group B cadre as on 1 st Jan, every year for all DPCs after 1972. It was 80% for C.Ex, 20% for Customs (among them every 5 th vacancy was given to the Customs Supdts after 4 Appraisers were promoted). In other words, the quota for promotion among the three cadres was 20:4:1 (4:1 between the two Deptts.). As per the Para 5(1) of OM dt.22-12-1959, wherever the promotions are from different feeder cadres it was to be filled up from separate zone for each cadre and separate select list drawn to the extent of available quota. As per Board's letter No.A-12013/2/73 Ad IIA dt.13-2-1973 (Annexure III to AK Chatterjee's writ petition - W.P.No.4532-33/1978-before Supreme Court), the Board decided to fill up the posts in 3:1 ratio between Central Excise and Customs and after 4 Appraisers, the 5 th post of AC was allotted to the Superintendent of Customs . i.e. 15:4:1 (or 3:1).
Though the Hon'ble Supreme Court upheld the 6:1:2 ratios, disposing the IA.No.6&7 filed by the Customs Superintendents for a change in their quota, the Court ordered that the change of quota has to be done by a fresh determination and it was left open to the” applicants to make out a case for change and take appropriate steps for the same. Thus a change in the ratio 6:1:2 is now left open by the Apex Court to the CBEC for a fresh determination.
CBEC - PERSONNEL DEPT.
The arrangement at the top in CBEC is ideal –out of the six members in the CBEC holding the rank of the Spl. Secretary to the Government of India , there is a Member exclusively for P&V matters. Also there is the Directorate of Organisation & Personnel Management (DOPM) headed by an experienced Commissioner of Joint. Secretary level, for the Personnel and career management directly reporting to the Member (P&V) .The entire cadre management on DPCs, seniority, deputations etc. of Group B&A cadres is being handled by the Board and personally monitored by the Member(P&V). Out of the total 65,000 (approx) employees, there is a total sanctioned strength of 12,766 in Group B and around 2304 in the Group A services. In the normal course, everything should have been handled very systematically and efficiently. But strangely, all is not well as could be seen today.
After the re-structuring implemented in Nov, 2002, there are around 1500 newly created posts never filled up till date!! The creation and distribution of these posts were definitely never need neither based nor actually required at all. But the cadres of Group C & B of Central Excise side remain the most disgruntled and stagnating even today. There are 8 to 10 Group B officers working under one AC in almost every Central Excise Division of which on an average 5 or 6 will be those in the same scale of pay of the ACs after getting the second MACP on completion of 20 years service. There are over 4000 in the ACP scale and only 250 divisions in the field set up. There were three Committees created by the CBEC during 2003-2004 viz.(i)-Study committee in Feb,2003 on removal of stagnation headed by Sri.SK Mishra, the then Member P&V.(ii)-Study committee on merger of cadres headed by the Sri.SK. Bharadwaj, Member P&V with CC of Chandigarh as a member in Sept,2003 (iii)-Committee on creation of Service Tax Commissionerates and cadre re-structuring headed by Sri. RK.Tewari, CC ,Pune in Oct,2004 (who was Member P&V for couple of months-before joining Settlement Commission.) All these committees were set up with the noble purposes and based on repeated representations made by the staff associations of Superintendents and Inspectors. The Tewari Committee set up in Oct, 2004 had done a commendable work within a record time-limit of three months and recommended for creation of 266 posts of A Cs as early in Dec,2004 and entrusting the ACP Superintendents with powers of ACs for Service tax matters in a time-bound manner. Nothing was heard there after in the matter. Consequently the merger committee gave its Report which has become redundant now.
Therefore and in view of forthcoming GST a rational cadre review will go a long way to usher in new era. Let us hope CBEC does its homework with no hole barred manner before GST is brought in.
(The above views are personal – Inputs provided by Kerala Unit of Inspectors' Association- thanks to them)