Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs
North Block, New Delhi-110 001
Tel. No. : +91-11-23092849, Fax No. : +91-11-23092890
E-mail : [email protected]
Date: 08th February 2021
The Hon’ble Finance Minister has presented to Parliament the Union Budget for the financial year 2021-22. It is the first budget of this new decade and appropriately also a digital one in the backdrop of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Apart from tax proposals, there are many provisions in the Budget which when approved, would take forward our indirect taxes initiatives. Many of them contain new approaches to address issues that would streamline the tax administration while bringing in transparency for the trade and industry.
These are the result of the working synergy between the Policy wings and Tax Research Unit (TRU). The formulation of budget proposals by TRU and its eventual acceptance or omission by the Hon’ble Finance Minister from the Budget is an interesting journey. As you are aware, TRU is the specialized unit entrusted with policy functions pertaining to Indirect Tax rates as well as coordinating all Budget related work in the CBIC. After issuance of the Budget Circular by the Budget Division in the Department of Economic Affairs, TRU, along with other Policy sections of the Board, commences the Budget work pertaining to Indirect Taxes. Letters are written to Secretaries of all Departments of the Government of India by the Finance Secretary inviting their inputs and suggestions pertaining to indirect taxes. Letters are also written to the Zones and all major trade associations requesting their inputs and recommendations. In addition to the written requests, pre-budget meetings are held with trade associations and other bodies, which are chaired in groups, separately by the Hon’ble Finance Minister and senior officers.
The inputs/requests from the stakeholders and suggestions by Line Ministries are examined and a broad sheet is meticulously prepared. This forms the basis and the most critical process of the intense Budgetary preparation, which lasts from October till the date of passing of the Finance Bill. A Technical Officer (TO) working in TRU requires in-depth knowledge of the commodity he deals with, its import patterns, uses, rate structure and a broad sectoral understanding to make a comprehensive and meaningful document based on which tax rate policy can be deliberated and finalized. After creating a broad sheet, a series of high-level internal discussions and meetings are held, chaired by the Hon’ble Finance Minister, to examine the various proposals and its overall impact before it is, in due course, finalised. Thereafter, inputs / suggestions for Hon’ble Finance Minister’s speech pertaining to indirect taxes, Cabinet Summary, Explanatory Memoranda (Pink Book) and other such documents are prepared.
On the eve of the presentation of the Budget, JS (TRU) finalizes his D.O. Letter. This D.O. letter is one that, over the years, has acquired a significance and an authority, which is unparalleled. It has become an integral part of the Budget exercise and is a comprehensive document which outlines all the indirect tax changes in the Budget in an easy-to-comprehend manner for the convenience of field formations. This document is an absolute must-read for all officers. After completing the process, the fmal Budget notifications, JS (TRU)’s D.O. Letter and Explanatory Memoranda are handed over to the MC for publication on indiabudget.gov.in. It is only after the Budget is presented in Parliament that TRU officers get a much deserved respite. These officers display a high level of professionalism, an attention to detail and utmost dedication that has become the hallmark of this unit.
The officers in the various policy wings of the Board i.e. the GST Policy Wing, Customs Policy Wing and that of Central Excise & Service Tax too toil hard and contribute immensely by providing inputs to TRU to comprehensively work on the Budget proposals. From the issuance of the Budget Circular in October, all officers of TRU, as an unwritten rule, are required to be in office without leave until the Budget is introduced in the Parliament. It may be interesting to know that during this phase, officers of TRU and the TRU premises are not open for interaction with outsiders and work under a close security umbrella. The internet is also disconnected for ensuring security and secrecy of the Budget proposals. My appreciation to all the officers involved in the Budget Process, for the devotion and dedication displayed over a long period every year. The role of their families too deserves to be acknowledged for the support that they extend to these officers during this prolonged, stressful period.
Last week, the first meeting of the Steering Committee on implementation of iGOT project in CBIC under the Central Government’s flagship programme ‘Mission Karmayogi’ was held at CoE, NACIN. It is a matter of pride that NACIN has been among the top three content contribution to the online learning platform for officers. They have also been on schedule for the activities required of them. I urge all officers to avail the learning opportunities through this wonderful module. I also visited the nearby offices of HRD and DG Systems after the meeting. It felt good to interact with officers and staff at the HRD who continuously work on improving the overall well-being of departmental officers and monitoring the creation and maintenance of Departmental assets. The team at DG Systems organised a briefing on the arrangements for 24×7 real time monitoring of CBIC data centre and ICEGATE operations through the Network Operating Centre (NOC) of DG Systems. It was a fruitful engagement.
A few days ago, I took stock of tasks that have been completed, and those that remain to be taken up, as I completed a year in office. While many improvements have been made, staff welfare requires to get more attention. I am glad to inform you that the Board in its last meeting decided that the FY 2021-22 would be the “Year of Officers and Staff welfare”. The roadmap and modalities would be announced in the coming weeks. I expect that, in the field formations, senior officers too would lead from the front and do their bit for the overall well-being of the officers and staff under their command.
Rewards are a beneficial scheme meant to encourage officers as well as incentivise informers in our fight against duty evasion. Fund utilization under this head along with that of TA/ DA and other administrative heads, should be monitored during monthly zonal meetings. I expect that the Zonal Chiefs and the DGs of concerned Directorates would pay personal attention to ensure every case due is acted upon and that funds do not lapse. Sanction of claims that are due should be done irrespective of the fund position. The progress made will be monitored through special reports by the Board in its meetings with Zonal / Directorate heads.
As we move to the post Budget phase and look towards completing the assigned targets for the financial year, I wish you and your family good health and cheer.
(M. Ajit Kumar)
All Officers and Staff of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs