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Discontent among IRS officials may hurt tax collection target
September, 29th 2008

Simmering discontent among a large section of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officials may hurt the government's ambitious plan to collect a whopping Rs 3,95,000 cr as direct taxes during 2008-09.

Though official sources in the finance ministry still maintain that the revised targets will be met, many senior revenue service officials told SundayET on conditions of anonymity that a demoralized lot won't be able to fulfill the revised targets.

There are several grouses that the IRS officials hold against the government. Though the 6th Pay Commission proposed to upgrade the post of member in Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to the level of secretary, the government did not accept their recommendation. Also, chief commissioners of income tax are now placed below director general of police or principal conservator of forests in a state. Tempers have been running high in the revenue service, and about 15 IRS officers have already put in their papers after the revised pay for government employees were formally announced last month.

"Almost all senior cabinet ministers promised support to the IRS officers. Unfortunately, the finance minister did not even give time to his own IRS officers to redress their grievance. Can the government afford to annoy so many 'expenditure observers' when the polls are looming large?" a disgruntled IRS official told SundayET after the IRS Association passed a resolution on September 26 expressing anguish at non-fulfillment of their demands.

Former CBDT chairman R Prasad said that government should implement the pay commission's recommendation to motivate the revenue officials for achieving tax collection target.

"I know, people in the cadre are dissatisfied. You can't expect a de-motivated lot to achieve such a huge target of tax collection. The government should immediately implement the pay commission's recommendation", he said.

In a service of 4200 officers, no IRS can move to the level of secretary or special secretary. In case of the coveted Indian Administrative Service (IAS), which has a strength of 5000 officers, 4.2% of their cadre are either secretaries or special secretaries. Even other services are better placed. The Indian Police Service (IPS) has 1.21% of its officials at the secretary level. For Indian Forest Service and Indian Foreign Service, the percentage is 1.23 and 3.91 respectively.

"As recommended by the 6th Pay Commission, the post of Member CBDT may immediately be placed in the revised pay scale of Rs 80,000. The post of cadre controlling chief commssioners of income tax should also be placed at the revised pay scale of Rs 80,000 to bring it at par with the DGPs and principal conservator of forest," an IRS official demanded.

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