Around 100 top officials of the Income Tax, Customs and Central Excise departments have put in their papers to join the lucrative private sector and would be getting a hike of 4-6 times in their salary package.
Our most experienced tax officials are leaving service to join private firms like Ernst&Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, IndiaBulls and even industrial houses like Reliance and Tata Group, as they get higher financial package in the private sector, said a senior official in the Income Tax (I-T) department.
Almost every fortnight one or two officials of the I-T department opt for voluntary retirement as they realise the opportunities for them in the market are vast ,with their expertise in corporate tax and legal matters, he said.
In fact, over the past few months, over 26 Grade-A officials have put in their papers in the I-T department. In the Central Customs and Excise Department 55 officers have left service in 2006 alone, sources said.
Many officials, the sources said, are waiting for the government to either provide them some interim relief or for announcement of a better financial package under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS).
After the creation of new 288 posts, the I-T Department has about 4,100 Group-A officials, while the number is around 2,500 in the Central Excise and Customs.
Official sources in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said, with direct tax collection growing by over 35 per cent annually, the department is facing a shortage of professionals, which is affecting the scrutiny and investigationsof cases.
In a submission to the Sixth Central Pay Commission, the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Officers Association of Customs and Excise claimed that despite higher skills, tax officials were not offered parity with IAS cadre as far as salary, housing and promotion avenues are concerned.
The Government is, in losing revenue worth thousands of crores by not attracting and retaining young tax officials, the sources added.
Tax officials claimed that with the total central tax collections expected to cross Rs 500,000 crore next fiscal, the government should consider providing separate financial package to the officials in the tax division to maingtain motivatio levels.
Notably, the cost of tax collection in India is the lowest compared to other economies like the US, China and European countries.
According to Chitra Gouri Lal President IRS (C&CE) Association, the government should take corrective measures to check the exodus and create better working conditions and emoluments that are comparable to those offered by the private sector.
The tax officers have demanded enhancement in retirement age to 62 years, besides a 10 per cent skill enhancement pay.