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  Opinion   Oped  07 May 2017  Dilli Ka Babu: Ready for change?

Dilli Ka Babu: Ready for change?

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Published : May 7, 2017, 12:41 am IST
Updated : May 7, 2017, 12:41 am IST

The Niti Aayog evidently wants the government to reduce dependence on the administrative machinery for the delivery of services

In the run-up to the Goods and Services Tax roll out, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, now renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs is set for a major revamp.
 In the run-up to the Goods and Services Tax roll out, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, now renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs is set for a major revamp.

In its draft report on a three-year action plan, the Niti Aayog has set the laudable target of full digitisation of the government by the end of 2019. It has also argued to induct specialists into the system through lateral entry. Specialists could be brought on three to five year contracts as such a system will bring top talent and energy into the government system and lend new dynamism to ministries, the panel has suggested.

The Niti Aayog evidently wants the government to reduce dependence on the administrative machinery for the delivery of services. It also favours a longer tenure for secretary-rank officer in government departments. At present, by the time officers are promoted from additional secretary to secretary level, usually they have two years or less left before retirement.

Though these recommendations have been put for debate, sources say that not all the elements dealing with bureaucracy will be taken well by Indian Administrative Service officers, since suggestions like hiring specialists from outside, could result in severe depletion of their clout within the government. Still, a healthy debate on these would surely be welcome.

GST: Challenging time ahead
In the run-up to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) roll out, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, now renamed as Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is set for a major revamp.

While the number of commissionerates would be cut by a fourth to 101 for the GST, as against 141 for Central excise and service tax, the number of directorates will go up under the GST regime. But there is a yawning gap at the top. At present, the board has only two members against the sanctioned strength of six. At present, senior Indian Revenue Service officer, Vanaja N. Sarna, is CBEC chairperson. There are only two members in the board — Ananya Ray and S. Ramesh — leaving four vacancies when a member Ram Tirath retired last week.

Given that the board and its officials are key stakeholders in implementation of the GST, which will be rolled out from July 1, there are concerns whether the depleted board will be able to handle the coming changes.

Turf tussle in Haryana
The simmering rivalry between the Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service came to head in Haryana recently when former DGP Yashpal Singal was sworn in as the state’s chief information officer (CIC). The event was notable for the absence of IAS officers who, sources say, chose to “boycott” it. Apparently, only chief secretary D.S. Dhesi and additional chief secretary S.S. Prasad attended the swearing-in ceremony, due to the demand of protocol. The other IAS officers gave it a miss. Meanwhile IPS officers turned up in strength!

It is believed that Mr Singal is the first IPS officer to become CIC, breaking the domination of the IAS lobby over this position. Earlier, IAS officers like G. Madhavan, Meenaxi Anand Chaudhary and Naresh Gulati had held the post. Even this time, senior bureaucrat Rajan Gupta and other senior bureaucrats were vying for the top post.

But the resentment of the IAS lobby is also due to the Khattar government selecting a retired state service officer Narender Yadav for the post of state information commissioner, instead of one of their own. So it’s a double whammy for the heaven — born in a state they’d pretty much had a bull run it!

Tags: niti aayog, goods and services tax, cbic