September 19, 2021

Biz Journal

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Faceless scheme: Revenue officers seeks change in role, service conditions

Indian Revenue Service Association (IRSA) has proposed a slew of measures to (CBDT) with respect to their role and service conditions, in order to successfully implement Faceless Assessment Scheme.

Some of these proposals included redrafting transfer and placement policy for IRS officerse, strengthening the cadre restructuring, rebranding of IRS, robust deputation policy and creation of encadred post in other ministries and government department.

The move followed the widespread concerns and apprehensions amongst revenue officers regarding their career prospects of the service on account of new faceless assessment scheme.

In a discussion held on August 23, the IRS association said that these reforms should be taken up immediately to allay their concerns and to ensure that the relevance of the IRS as a service is sustained and the profile of the service rises in the annals of government.

Business Standard reviewed the IRSA letter.

Under the proposed transfer policy, the caps on stay in a station (city) or in a region as well as mandatory transfers on promotion should be dispensed and officers should be allowed to work from preferred locations. “The new transfer policy should leverage technology in the new regime and should reflect paradigm shift in work culture such as facilitating not just work from home but also work from home town, IRS association said.

At present, a revenue officer has to serve eight years in any of the metro cities, five years in tier 2 and three years in tier 3 cities.

Further, the association also proposes to allow at least 20 per cent of the revenue officers of the cadre to go on deputation from current 10 per cent. “As the I-T department is rapidly becoming systems-driven through machine- learning and artificial-intelligence driven initiatives, IRS officers also need to chart a trajectory independent of the department. Our officers should be encouraged and facilitated to assume larger roles in governance so that aspirational needs of individual officers are also fulfilled, it said.

Officials also wants to create encadred post in ministries. For instance, revenue officers could legitimately stake claims to occupy posts of “financial advisor” in various ministries/departments/PSUs/organisations along the lines of the post of “economic adviser” manned by IES officers in various departments.

Similarly, IRS officers could be natural choices in various ministries/departments with respect to posts at various levels dealing with financial affairs. In the long run, such enabling policies will not only help individual IRS officers gather varied experiences but will also create goodwill of the service in the government, association said.

Stressing on the rebranding of revenue services, the association said an exposure should be given in accordance with the Indian Police Service staking claims to leadership positions in paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies. The revenue officers too want to be the part of and eventually head any institution within monetary, commercial, economic or fiscal realms of governance. “The best way to reinvent is to evolve from essentially a one- department identity and a one-function service to that of a competent administrator-cum- specialist in areas like taxation, financial intelligence, economic crimes and enforcement, fiscal policy, public finance, financial management etc.

They also want the competent authority to revise the training curriculum and course structure of training which would enable them to have more domain knowledge in various areas other than taxation.

On the cadre restructuring proposal, they say that it needs to be revised and re-worked after the policy of deployment of two-third of the current workforce of the department towards the Faceless assessment scheme.

This means that other residual work such as collection, recovery, handling taxpayers grievances would come under severe constraints. Further, new manpower and related issues can and should, be adequately factored into the revised cadre restructuring proposals.

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