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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Administration in GST - Moving Upstairs or Downstairs

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Introduction:

“Too many cooks spoil the broth” perhaps this would have been in the thoughts of Group on Implementation of GST while analyzing the organizational structure for GST. This group is a committee constituted by the Government that has been framed to analyze all the aspects which will be affected by implementation of GST. On 12.07.2010, the Group has given their report. In this article, we are discussing the administrative changes proposed by the Group under GST regime.

  • Organizational Structure proposed under GST: -

The Group has recommended that the organizational structure under the GST regime should be on functional basis rather than on territorial jurisdiction basis. The present organizational structure is based on territorial jurisdiction and one office i.e. Range handles all the different functions pertaining to units falling under their jurisdiction. Thus, one office handles the various functions of registration, audit, refund, adjudication, legal, recovery, taxpayer services etc.

Under GST, the Group has recommended functional division of work. It is proposed that different divisions of an office should handle different functions of registration, audit, refund, adjudication, legal, recovery, taxpayer services etc. This has been done to encourage specialization as well as better organizational structure.

It has been proposed that the new structure would be having (i) GST Commissionerates having a functional or combination of functional & territorial jurisdiction and (ii) Separate Commissionerates for Audit & Anti-evasion. Thus, exclusive Audit and Anti-evasion Commissionerates have been proposed.

  • Audit Commissionerates: -

Present scenario:

At present, the Audit work in Central Excise Commissionerate is done by the Audit teams which work under the direct supervision of an AC level officer who reports to the Commissioner. This is the case where units are located at one place. In the case of Multi Locational units (MLU) belonging to same assessee is co-ordinated by the office of ADG (Audit).

Proposal for GST:-

Looking to the success and achievements of DGCEI, it is being accepted that an entity entrusted with a specialized function snatch a better result. As such, it is proposed that separate and exclusive Commissionerates should be set up for audit and anti-evasion work. For the taxpayers having Multi-locational units (MLU) in a state, for high revenue-paying units and for some of the complex business sectors, it is recommended that the Audit must be conducted by Audit Commissionerates. And for other assessees, it is proposed that the jurisdictional GST Commissionerates should do the Audit work.

Within the Audit Commissionerates, it is proposed that there should be specialized Cells for specific industry or sector. For example, specialized audit groups for banking and financial services in Mumbai, for Mining Industry in Chhattisgarh, or for Petrochemical Industry in Gujarat. This is being proposed under a thought that this will enhance the domain knowledge of the audit officers and will develop a professional approach. It has also been suggested that these specialized groups may provide policy inputs to the Board also.

However, the group has not clarified what will be the status of the audit paras raised by the audit Commissionerates. Whether these will be replied directly to these Commissionerates only as regards present scene where these are routed through the range and division. While analyzing the need of formation of audit Commissionerates, the Group has perhaps not thought over the staff-recruitments. Since one audit Commissionerate will be holding watch-over on a no. of assessees what will be the status of frequency of audits. The Commissionerate will surely need adequacy of staff to accomplish its tasks. But what will be the consequences of the audit paras so raised. By whom the resulting show cause notice will be issued? To whom they will be replied and the consequences of these notices will be followed up by whom? If the Audit Commissionerate is itself going to accomplish all these tasks, one can presume of a day when the audit Commissionerate will be indulged in routine matters like follow up which in present system is carried on by the officers of lower rank.

Anti-Evasion Commissionerates: -

Present Scenario:

Anti-evasion work is done by three types of teams – (i) Anti-evasion wing of the Commissionerate Headquarters; (ii) Preventive units of the Divisions; and (iii) Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI). Out of the three, the DGCEI is carrying out the work of intelligence and investigation at national level. It is top-ranked of three as regards quality of cases booked, value of goods and amount of duty involved in offence cases. The reason is being analyzed as this is an independent and specialized entity devoting its 100% in this particular task only.

Proposal for GST:-

It is proposed that the anti-evasion work should be handled by a more specialized and exclusive Anti-evasion Commissionerate. Proposal for set up of one exclusive Anti-evasion Commissionerate in one state is forwarded. However, in case of certain states where there are smaller numbers of taxpayers like in North-eastern states, Uttarakhand etc., one anti-evasion Commissionerate may have jurisdiction over more than one State. Case may be vice versa in the States like Maharashtra and Gujarat where one state may require more than one Anti-evasion Commissionerate. Just like audit Commissionerate, anti-evasion Commissionerate will also face a lot of similar problems like follow up of the cases made by the anti-evasion team. If no proper follow up is there, the efforts/aim of setting up separate Commissionerate will be senseless.

  • Staff of Audit/Anti-evasion Commissionerates: -

The Group has proposed that the entire staff of Audit/Anti-evasion Commissionerates is not required to be centralized at the headquarters. They can be placed at different places within the state which will be as per the administrative requirements. However, whether all the staff will be fit for every location? The Group itself has proposed the establishment of specialized cells for specific industry or sector. Working there for certain time will adversely affect their competency in a different sector. It is also proposed to divide the Commissionerates on functional basis which will also affect the movability of the staff and their services. It will also be limited to that particular function. If they are moved to another sector/department, it will reduce the quality of work. Further, if it is decided to transfer the staff on a frequent basis, it will increase the related costs to government and will reduce the sense of responsibility amongst them.

  • Supervision of Work: -

The Group has recommended that Audit/Anti-evasion work at Commissionerates should be supervised by officers of the rank of Chief Commissioners. One Commissioner can be made in-charge of 3-4 such Commissionerates. At the apex level, the Group proposed that DG (Audit) and DG (Anti-evasion) should be made Nodal Officers to ensure proper co-ordination of work of Chief Commissioners of Audit and Anti-evasion. As such, in the hierarchy, the audit/anti-evasion Commissionerates alongwith jurisdictional Commissionerates will report to Chief Commissioners who in turn will report to DG (Audit)/ DG (Anti-evasion) (also known as nodal officers). The nodal officers will be accountable to the Board.

  • GST Commissionerates: -

The Group has recommended three types of GST Commissionerates to be set up. This has been done keeping in mind the fact that taxpayers within a state and amongst the states are not uniformly located. Also, some assessees have more than one premises in a state. It has also been considered that now CBEC will be administering manufacturers, types of dealers, service providers and inter-State dealers.

Thus, it has been provided that a uniform organizational structure for the entire country would not work and different types of organizational structure is required depending upon dispersal/diversity of assessees in an area.

The Group has recommended following types of Commissionerates which will have a clearly defined geographical jurisdiction:

(a) One-tier functional Commissionerate
(b) Two-tier functional Commissionerate
(c) Three-tier territorial Commissionerate

One-Tier functional Commissionerate: -

Characteristics:-

  • It is proposed for cities having large concentration of assessees.
  • It will be formed on functional basis.
  • It will comprise of different divisions wherein specific functions like registration, processing of returns, refund, adjudication, administration, appeal, recovery of arrears etc. will be performed.
  • Each division may further have sub-divisions.

This type of Commissionerate will promote specialization and improve efficiency. It would also avoid movement of files from Range to Division and from Division to Commissionerate Headquarters as is being done presently. Duplicity of work will also be minimized.




Two-Tier functional Commissionerate: -

Characteristics:-

  • It is proposed for cities where taxpayers are spread over a relatively large area i.e. within 50-100 Kms from the Commissionerate Hqrs.
  • Under this type of Commissionerate, there will be territorial Divisions.
  • The divisions will work on functional basis. It means each division will perform specific function like registration, processing of returns, refund, adjudication, administration, appeal, recovery of arrears etc.


Three-tier territorial Commissionerate: -

Characteristics:-

  • It is proposed where the assessees are spread over a large area like in present Central Excise Commissionerates of Belgaum, Meerut-II, Guwahati, etc.
  • This is designed on the present structure of Commissionerates with Divisions and Ranges based upon the territorial jurisdictions.


Combination of One-tier, Two-tier and Three-tier Commissionerates: -

The Group also proposed that the Commissionerates can also organized based upon combination of more than one type. For example: A Commissionerate has 3 Divisions in the city and 2 divisions outside the city. For the 3 divisions in the city, one-tier form can be adopted and for the other two divisions, two-tier organization can be followed.

There may be cases where an assessee is having more than one premises which fall under the jurisdiction of other Commissionerates within the same state. In such cases, it is proposed that assessee should be given the choice to register under any of the Commissionerates within the State. For this it has been proposed that all the Commissionerates located within a State should have concurrent jurisdiction over the entire State. Thus, one Commissionerate will have the legal backing to conduct checks, verifications, audit and anti-evasion functions of an assessee in the entire state.

  • Other Recommendations: -

The present ACES work on a C-D-R (Commissionerate-Division-Range) mapping. It is proposed to modify the same to suit the new organizational structure. Since the entire proposal of GST is based on online submissions – whether it is registration, return filing or processing of return. As such, modification of the ACES is must for proper implementation of GST.

  • Number of Commissionerates in GST: -

Under GST regime, the Group has proposed that there should be 150 GST Commissionerates, 45 Audit Commissionerates (To audit Customs Post-clearance Audit also) and 20 Anti-evasion Commissionerates.

This has been proposed on the estimate that there will be about 35,000 to 50,000 assessees per Commissionerate depending upon the dispersal of the assessees. And it was also felt that the number of taxpayers in one Commissionerate may be more than in the other Commissionerate.

This estimation is also said to be in line with the cadre review proposal. This cadre review proposal has been approved by the Board and the Group has recommended that it should be pursued vigorously. This would enable smooth switch-over.

  • Stronger IT Structure: -

The Group has felt that the success of GST would be achieved only if we have a strong IT infrastructure. For this procurement of hardware is required for running the system and also a lot of skilled officials for the DG (Systems). Thus, the Group has concluded that office of DG (Systems) needs to be strengthened substantially and at the earliest.

  • Large Taxpaying Unit (LTU): -

The Large Tax payer unit is the one which is manufacturer or a service provider which has paid excise duty of more than Rs. 500 Lakhs or service tax of more than Rs. 500 lakhs or is paying advance tax of more than Rs. 10, 000 lakhs under the Income Tax Act, 1961 and is assessee under the jurisdiction of specified Income Tax Commissionerates of Bangalore, Chennai Mumbai or Delhi.

The LTUs have been given the benefit of transfer of credit from one LTU to another and the removal of goods from one unit to another without payment of duty.

A point was raised during the discussion as to whether the LTU should be continued. The Group was satisfied with the encouraging results of LTU functioning at the four places and has proposed that the LTUs should continue at the State level for CGST, SGST and IGST.

However, the Group has felt that whether the present benefits or special dispensation given to LTU should be continued is a policy issued and the Board has to decide the same. It has been said in the report that the benefits given to the LTU would not be relevant under GST.

Thus, it is required to be decided to continue the LTU concept or not. If the LTU concept is continued then the entire legal provision of giving option to the unit to join LTU is to be re-looked. It is also suggested that certain major assessees would be compulsorily asked to join LTU.

Before Parting: -

From the perusal of the report of the Group, it is clear that a complete change in the existing administrative structure is required for ushering in GST Regime. The changes are so vital that without them, the GST would not be implemented successfully. But anyhow, it is not ascertainable from the Board report whether the organizational structure so proposed will be separate for CGST and SGST or will it be only for CGST. If it is only for CGST there is no need of going to break up into two parts. The government may implement it at Central level only and sharing can be done between Centre and State. Further, if the structure is separate for CGST and SGST, it will require additional man power, thus resulting into increase in cost and decrease in revenue. As compared to present structure, the concept of one-tier, two-tier, three-tier or combination of all, will perhaps take more time to be adopted. Even if adopted, its transitional period will be comparatively longer

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