Officers belonging to the Indian Revenue Service (C&CE) are opposing and there is no dearth of anger among them over a system where the GST secretariat will be headed by generalists and not by those who have the experience of collecting Central Excise and Service Tax, which accounts for 56% of GDP.
There is also stiff opposition to the whole idea of setting up a private limited company (GSTN), which is headed by a retired IAS officer, to implement GST.
While stating that they already have a successful track-record of assessment, collection, duty drawback and refunds, backed by one of the most efficient manpower and the best system in the world, the IRS officers are pointing out that the Central Excise and Service Tax website handles the important job of Registration, Return filing and Duty Payment. They are particularly drawing attention towards their professional competency and asserting that the GST Secretariat should not be allowed to be run by generalists.
On the Customs side, it is being pointed out by the IRS officers that besides their duty to assess, their Single Window, ICEGATE (Indian Customs EDI Gateway) or the e-Commerce Portal of Central Board of Excise & Customs, and the Risk Management System (RMS), which is an IT driven system with the primary objective to strike an optimal balance between facilitation and enforcement, can be compared with the best systems anywhere in the world.
An IRS officer stated that the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and their Audit are professionally managed and touch global standards. He further said that they ensure minimum interface, absolute transparency, and follow strict deadlines when it comes to taking decisions. Taking a jibe at the Government of India for entrusting the administration of GST Council and GST Network to IAS officers, he said this is highly demoralising for the Indian Revenue Service officers.
An IRS officer wrote on a social networking platform that “with weak and demoralised work-force, the Centre neither can be strong nor can it fulfill its responsibilities in a judicious manner vis-a-vis the Directive Principles of State Policy An economically weak Centre is a death knell for Democracy and Cooperative Federalism, he said adding the need of the hour is a professionally driven Tax Administration System.”
Another IRS officer reacted in sharp terms he said: “The idea of forming a private limited company with private players to implement the GST goes against the whole concept of sovereign responsibility of administering tax administration. It is to be underscored that India is a Union of States and the Union should not become weak by giving the States unnecessary leverage in administering the GST. It was weak institutional framework and tax administration that was responsible for the fiscal developments that eventually flared up the Greek crisis.”
The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 12 September, 2016 approved setting-up of GST Council and its Secretariat. Simultaneously, it was announced that the first Meeting of the GST Council will be held on 22 and 23 September 2016 in the national Capital.