Address delivered by Shri S.Dutt. Majumder, Chairman, CBEC  on 19.10.2011 at the Valedictory Function of 2 day “Workshop on Capability Building for SEVOTTAM” organised by Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

Venue : Vigyan Bhavan

Shri R.C. Misra, Secretary, DARPG, Dr. Sanjeevan Bajaj, CEO, FICCI Quality Forum and other senior officers on dais, participants of this two day workshop on Capability Building for Sevottam, gathered here from 45 ministries and departments.

It is indeed a pleasure to be amidst you this afternoon at the valedictory session of this two day workshop.

2. SEVOTTAM symbolizes the Government’s intent to move from ‘administration’ mind set to ‘service orientation’ in delivery of public services. It emphasizes the relationship between service provider and service receivers. It is a standardized Services Delivery Excellence Model whose main features are to identify the services provided by the organization, to set norms for each service, to ensure delivery as per norms, to assess quality of delivery on a continuous basis and to proactively redress public grievances.

3. The Central Board of Excise & Customs has been identified as one of the 10 organizations with a large public interface to implement a quality management system for public services. This is a part of the Central Government’s initiative to improve the quality of public services. This system is based on the Indian Standard – IS 15700: 2005 developed by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

4. Having been actively associated with Sevottam, let me tell you about Implementing Sevottam in CBEC field formations

The Central Board of Excise & Customs is committed to excellence in taxpayer services. We have a large taxpayer base of service tax providers, manufacturers, dealers, importers and exporters. While some of our large taxpayers are sophisticated and have access to a dedicated service delivery channel in form of LTU (Large Taxpayer Unit), we need to cater to small service tax providers as well as daily international travellers. This wide range of clientele segmentation necessitates that we have a standard service delivery system that caters to the need of all. The system needs to provide transparency, accountability, reliability, responsiveness and empathy in taxpayer functions of the CBEC.

 5. The Central Board of Excise & Customs has taken concrete steps to improve its public delivery system. We aim at providing taxpayer services in terms of timeliness in delivery, single window facility, trade facilitation and proactive feedback collection. To achieve this we have

i.  revised our Citizens’ Charter with inputs from key stakeholders for delivery norms for specific services thus aligning it to what taxpayers want.

ii. adopted CPGRAMS (Centralized Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System) at all India level as a robust grievance redress system.

iii. developed delivery capability at field offices to meet IS 15700 stringent norms and designed a Service Quality Manual on how to deliver quality in taxpayer services as per the industry best practices – a key component at capability building in fulfillment of Sevottam and meeting its objectives.

 6. As recognition of our commitment to implement SEVOTTAM, four offices of the CBEC became IS 15700 certified at the initial stage of the project SEVOTTAM. The certificate has been awarded by Bureau of Indian Standards after conducting an independent audit of the public service delivery system at each of the offices. These offices are:

  • Office of the Directorate General of Inspection as apex office representing the Central Board of Excise & Customs,
  • Office of the Commissioner of Central Excise Delhi I as unit office for Central Excise revenue stream,
  • Office of Commissioner of Import & General Delhi as unit office for Customs revenue stream and
  • Office of Commissioner of Service Tax Delhi as unit office for Service Tax revenue stream.

7. Our public grievance redress system, Centralised Public Grievances Redressal & Monitoring System CPGRAMS, has improved our accessibility to the taxpayer. A taxpayer could redress ones’ grievance concerning any of our field office through a common online portal. We have a grievance redress rate of 87%. In addition we have appointed Public Grievance Officers at the field offices to look into the taxpayer grievances at personal level.     The Central Board of Excise & Customs is now positioned with a sustainable platform to continuously improve the taxpayer services. We envision extending  the taxpayer services delivery platform to each of our office by 2014  in a phased manner.

8. Let me now talk about challenges faced and experience gainedwhile we continue with our journey on improving the taxpayer services, I would like to share some key challenges that we encountered as an organization and how we dealt with them.
9. The first key challenge was to design an effective citizens’ charter, one that is easy to implement as well as is able to meet the aspirations of our stakeholders. This is the key question that any organization delivering services needs to answer. How do we balance the stakeholders’ expectations with the available resources to deliver?
10. CBEC has a very knowledgeable taxpayer base consisting of manufacturers, service providers, importers and exporters. They expect us to be very dynamic in policy making as per the changing economic scenario. As an indirect levy that gets passed on to the next consumer, we play a strong role in the product and services price in the market. Any delay on CBEC part could increase the cost of production as well as the cost of supply chain.
11. In order to meet this expectation we worked with the taxpayer associations like CII, ASSOCHAM, FICCI, PHDCCI, and FIEO, to prioritize top ten service functions where the associations need standards in timeliness of delivery. This selective promise of the priority services allows us to focus our resources in key areas for easy implementation as well as for meeting the priorities of the taxpayers. We have decided to keep on reviewing our citizens’ charter at two year intervals to move in line with the changing taxpayers’ needs.

12. The second key challenge for us was to bring a change in CBEC officers’ attitude towards taxpayer services. We needed a definite plan to emphasize our role not only as a tax collector but also as a tax facilitator. In order to bring the change in the officers’ attitude, we formed a team of senior officers who visited our different field offices all across India and sensitized them about what the department wants to accomplish through the citizens’ charter. Further we developed a standardized training module through our training academy NACEN, to train field officers about specific action steps they need to take. In addition, to bridge the gap between the citizens’ charter requirements and field level implementation, CBEC developed a Service Quality Manual through a pilot roll out of taxpayer services. The manual has set standard operating procedures for each of the priority service and allows each field formation to reorient its local services as per the standard. This standardization has allowed us to simplify the service delivery processes as well as identify the key resources needed to accomplish a task as per taxpayer expectation. We have also taken steps for providing the priority services on our national technology platforms, ICES and ACES. Presently five out of the ten priority services are available online to the taxpayers and as such provide the same level of reliability and responsiveness to any taxpayer across India. I would like to emphase here that changing the attitude of the field officers is a continuous challenge and needs to continue with full vigour for taxpayer services to sustain.

13. The next key challenge for us was to provide a robust grievance redress system to the taxpayer. The system needs to generate accountability as well as to be transparent.

In order to have such a system we adopted CPGRAMS, the grievance redress system of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances as our system, after having carefully reviewed the existing grievance redress mechanism. CPGRAMS allows us the in­built benefit of improving grievance redress whenever a new version is released by DARPG. Further CPGRAMS allows us the backward integration with other governmental organizations in case it is required. However CPGRAMS is still an IT system that needs proactive input from field offices to work effectively. So the senior field officers need to be brought on board for the system to be effective in creating accountability. We did this through specific seminars at metros as well as other cities sensitizing the senior officers about our new approach as well as identifying how they need to deliver. We have Public Grievance Officers appointed in each field Commissionerate to attend to grievances. The grievance redress is monitored at CBEC level on a daily basis.

14.  This concludes my overview on CBEC’s journey to improve the taxpayer services in a systematic manner. We would be more than happy to further share our experiences and expertise in this area if you need it.

15. In the end I would propose that all departments of the Government that have adopted the ISO 15700 framework should not rest at their current attainments, but should continuously strive to build further thereupon, undertake a gap analysis study to identify areas of deficient action, plug the same and thereby evolve a truly citizen centric governance mechanism not only benefitting the Nation at large but also their own self as a part of the larger entity.

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