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Preparing for GST: govt looking at restructuring excise/customs cadre
October, 04th 2016

As prepartions are a foot to roll out Goods and Services Tax (GST) from April 1, 2017, also under active consideration is the re-christening of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes.

Sources told BusinessLine along with the proposal to rename CBEC, a draft administrative re-organisation of its cadres is also under discussion. But it is yet to be approved by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The mammoth exercise, which will entail training of over 60,000 officers on the new indirect tax law, tentatively also, includes a revamp of the CBEC as well as the field formations.

“A new member for GST will be brought on to the Board, who can also be a Member Secretary to the proposed GST Council for issues relating to the Central and integrated GST,” said a person close to the development.

The Board will also include a Member to look into IT and infrastructure issues including the GST Network. Plans are also afoot to re-christen the CBEC as the Central Board of Indirect Taxes. Sources said the entire proposal is still under discussion and is yet to be approved by the Finance Minister.

The administrative reshuffle would largely involve service tax and excise duty formations while the customs cadre would continue as it is.

However, since petroleum is excluded from the purview of GST, central excise commissionerates are proposed to continue administering these. A separate division in the central excise will also handle all legacy issues such as pending cases, audits and investigations.

“These legacy issues will continue for a period of five years before they are closed,” said the official.

At the field level, the CBEC is also considering setting up about seven zones across the country, which would then be divided into regions for administrative purposes.

Each State will be divided into smaller units or GST ranges that would have a maximum of 1,000 assessees. These will then be grouped to form a GST division with 5,000 assesses.

There would also be similar structure for customs and central excise. The CBEC is also hoping to improve efficiency in its functioning through the re-structuring.

“Under the model, we will also need to have a continued dialogue with States to ensure that we work in coordination,” said an official.

The CBEC had initiated work on cadre-restructuring under GST at the start of the year and had sought data on the number of officials posted in field formations as well as number of taxpayers and annual turnover in each of the commissionerates.

Analysts said the draft will help officers understand the roles and responsibilities of various positions under the GST regime.

“Accountability and answerability of officers is also fixed depending on their positions and cadre,” said Rajat Mohan, Director, Nangia & Co.

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