The government will set up seven Indirect Tax Ombudsmen for quick redressal of grievances relating to customs, excise and service taxes. These adjudicating offices will be set up in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. The decision was approved in a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which also approved the Indirect Tax Ombudsman Guidelines, 2011.

The Ombudsmen will consider complaints of tax payers and facilitate their “satisfaction or settlement” by agreement through conciliation and mediation between Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax department and the aggrieved parties.

“It is expected that this will result in making the grievance redressal mechanism in the Customs, Central Excise and the Service Tax offices under the CBEC more effective and transparent,” Union minister for information and broadcasting Ambika Soni told reporters after the meeting.

The Ombudsmen will have powers to give “awards” to the aggrieved parties in accordance with the guidelines.

Ombudsman is a government official whose job is to examine and report on complaints made by ordinary people about the public authorities.

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