The central board of excise and customs (CBEC) is finalising a proposal to raise the rewards for field officials up to the rank of deputy commissioner to Rs 50,000 per case from the current Rs 5,000 per case, an official involved in the exercise told The Indian Express. The reward scheme was introduced in the year 2001 and the rates have remained unchanged since then.
The officers of the department who will stand to gain include inspectors, superintendents, assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners as they form the bulk of the field staff in this exercise. Since the rewards have not kept pace over the years the department has reasons to suspect the zeal among the officers to uncover duty evasion has dropped. In 2012-13 for instance as per the government data only 215 importers were audited that showed up duty evasion of Rs 120.62 crore with recovery of just Rs 2.91 crore.
The official explained that the department faces the challenge of meeting the stiff indirect revenue collection target of Rs 5.65 lakh crore this year which is 20 per cent more than last year. Overall, the indirect tax collections comprising service tax, customs duty and central excise has inched up only 4.7 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal. The figure is much worse for excise. Flat industrial output has adversely impacted its collection which contracted 4.9 per cent in the April-June period. The asking rate of growth for excise duty this year is 11.8 per cent.
To shore up tax receipts the government is banking on some of these measures in this fiscal. The department will expect its officers to conduct audits when they have reasons to believe that the credit of excise duty availed of by a manufacturer is not within the normal limits, or the duty has been availed of by reason of fraud like wrongly declaring a lower value of the goods produced. Similarly, on-site and off-site audits are conducted for importers to check if the goods being imported have been under-valued or misreported.