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CBEC`s reforms survey for a bit of soul searching
July, 18th 2006
When was the last time you heard a government department deciding to conduct a perception survey of its functioning? 
That is just what the Central Board of Excise and Customs is planning to conduct a survey in order to assess how traders and taxpayers view the reforms undertaken by the board since 2000-01. 
The board, which is expected to vet the proposal soon, will outsource the survey to an agency with expertise in the area. 
The survey will cover all reforms, including automation and simplification of procedures in excise, Customs and service tax since 2000-01. 
It will cover large, medium and small traders and taxpayers. 
Finance ministry officials said the survey would also attempt to seek inputs from respondents on the measures required to further improve the indirect tax system. 
While the CBEC is gearing up for the survey, the Central Board of Direct Taxes is working on strengthening its new directorate of income tax business process re-engineering. 
The business process re-engineering will perform functions relating to planning, development and analysis of improvements in the work and processes of the tax department. 
It will use the information base available with field formations and consultants for this purpose. 
The directorate will focus on five strategic areas pre-assessment processes which deal with assessment, compliance and processing of returns and documents at an accurate and fast pace; assessment processes which have to do with covering operations that enforce Indian tax laws and Acts as a deterrent against default, avoidance and evasion; post-assessment processes that cover collection of tax and recovery; appellate processes that help in avoiding disputes relating to tax assessments, and finally, enabling processes that deal with information technology and other resources needed to work on strategic areas. 
The new directorate has already invited bids from international consultants to help it re-work existing tax procedures. 
The bids, which closed recently, have been invited a second time around after the BPR received just one bid in its first attempt in December last year. Officials said the BPR had received around eight-to-nine bids. 
The re-engineering exercise would introduce changes to the existing systems gradually and systematically in incremental phases, officials said.
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