Friday, October 3, 2008

Points submitted for discussion on 25.09.2008

Posted by Secretary General on 2:31 PM with No comments
I - PAY AND ALLOWANCES RELATED DEMANDS SEEKS IMMEDIATE SOLUTION:

ANOMALY IN FIXATION OF PAY OF 1992 BATCH INSPECTORS
A. We would like to highlight the grievances of the 1992 batch of Inspectors who draw lesser pay than their juniors on grant of ACP for the reason that they were granted ACP prior to the up gradation of the pay scale for the post of Inspectors and Superintendents with effect from 21.04.2004. We have already raised the issue with Board vide our letter AICEIA/Pay 2008/21 dated 9.7.2008 [with US Ad.IIA section]. The affected officers have represented this matter from various Commissionerate through out the country. In Ranchi, Patna the anomaly have been solved provisionally and in Coimbatore Commissionerate and Kolkata, the Commissioners initially set right the anomaly but on advice from PAO the issue was to Board. This matter demands immediate rectification as it has direct ramification in the pay fixation and consequential benefits for our cadre.

In this regard, your kind attention is invited to our letter ref. AIF/Pay/2006/64 dated 15.11.2006 & AIF/Pay/2006/11 on the above subject and Board’s letters dated 06/01/2006 and 04/01/2008 in this regard.

The facts relevant to the issue that were highlighted by our earlier correspondences are reiterated here.

1. The pay scale of Inspectors of Central Excise was revised from RS. 5500-175-9000 to 6500-200-10500 w.e.f. 21/4/2004 vides Order No.6/37/98…dated 21/4/2004, issued by the Department of Expenditure.

2. By the same Order, the pay scale of Superintendent of Central Excise, the immediate hierarchical post of Inspector was revised from Rs. 6500-200-10500 to Rs. 7500-250-12500 w.e.f. 21/4/2004.

3. A large number of Inspectors have received 1st /2nd financial up gradation under the ACP scheme on completion of 12/24 years of service in the year 2004.

4. The upward revision of pay scales with effect from 21/04/2004 has given rise to anomalies in fixation pay of Inspectors getting their ACP before and after 21/4/2004.

5. In respect of Inspectors who were granted ACP before 21/4/2004, the pay was fixed in the pre – revised scale of the Superintendents viz. 6500-200-10500 and on 21/4/2004 their pay was fixed at Rs. 7500/-.

6. In respect of Inspectors who were granted ACP after 21/4/2004, the pay was fixed in the revised scale of. Superintendents viz. Rs. 7500-250-12000 at Rs. 7750/-.

7. Owing to the above, a large number of Inspectors all over the country are drawing lesser pay that their juniors

8. Almost in all cases, deprived Inspectors have represented to the competent authority, but to no result.

9. The CBEC vide letter ………dated 06/01/2006 and 04/01/2008 has clarified
“that no anomaly is recognized where pay is fixed under ACP scheme which is purely personal to the employee and has no relation to seniority of the employees. Despite there being existence of specific Government Instructions, the senior Inspectors are not provided the pay safeguard. Further the seniority has no relevance in ACP Scheme.”

10. We are constrained to say that the above clarification is not legally or factually correct for the following reasons;

(a) The anomaly in pay highlighted by the Association has not been caused by ACP but due to the up-gradation of pay scale of Inspectors and Superintendent.

(b) The same problem could have arisen in the case of promotion also.

(c) The situation highlighted is a unique one and is not covered by any of the clarifications issued by the DOPT with regard to the ACP scheme. As stated above the problem does not pertain to the implementation of ACP scheme and hence the remedy lies elsewhere.

(d) In this regard, attention is invited to Note 9 to Rule 7 of CCS (Revised Pay) Rules, 1997. The note contemplates stepping up of pay on par with that of the junior in a case where the senior is getting promotion before revision of pay-scales and junior after revision of pay-scales if the following conditions are satisfied


· Both the senior and the junior employees should belong to the same cadre and the posts in which they have been promoted should be identical in the same cadre,

· Pre-revised and revised scales of pay of the lower and higher posts in which they are entitled to draw their pay should be identical,

· The senior should draw at time of promotion pay equal to or higher than that of the junior,

· The anomaly should be directly due to application of FR 22 or any other Rule regulating pay-fixation on promotion in the revised scale,

· In cases, where junior draws more pay in pre-revised scales by virtue of advance increments granted to him the anomaly will not arise.

11. It is submitted that Note 9 to Rule 7 referred to above covers the instant case.
12. In terms of the above provisions we find that the Inspectors getting ACP benefit before 21/4/2004 and senior to Inspectors getting ACP benefit after 21/4/2004, are eligible to get the pay safeguard.

B. FIXATION OF PRE REVISED PAY SCALE FROM 01.01.1996:
The VI CPC has vide its recommendation in para No:7.15.16 under the chapter of Ministry of Finance, given its observation regarding granting of Scale of 6500-10500 for Inspectors/ Equivalent retrospectively from 1-1-1996. The pay commission has stated that unless a clear-cut and manifest anomaly that cannot be corrected other than through such retrospective revision is made out, it cannot be considered. In this regard a comparative chart is enclosed giving an insight into the pay scale that would be drawn by the Inspector of CBI and the Inspector of Central Excise as on 1-1-2008 (as per the recommendations of the VI CPC). The worksheet doesn’t incorporate the recommendations of the VI CPC for a higher scale of Rs. 7450-11500 for the Inspectors of CBI. Nor does the worksheet take into account the scales of Inspectors of CBI were revised from 1986 itself. Thus even on a very moderate calculation, there would be a difference of about Rs. 2,500/- between the Basic pay of an Inspector of CBI and an Inspector of Central Excise and increasing, if both the persons had joined the respective cadres on 1-1-1996 on the same basic pay of 6500-10500. This work sheet holds good in respect of a comparison of basic pay between Inspectors of Central Excise and its comparable cadre in the IA & AD also.

A comparative Chart of the Basic Pays of Inspectors in CBI and Central Excise as on 01/7/2008 in terms of Revised Pay Rules 2008
Year (as on 01 Jan.)

A comparative Chart of the Basic Pays of Inspectors in CBI and Central Excise as on 01/7/2008 in terms of Revised Pay Rules 2008


NOTE: The Basic Pay of Inspectors of Central Excise was upgraded on 21/4/2004
From the above it is evident that the above anomaly is clear-cut and manifest and cannot be corrected other than through a retrospective revision of the scale of Inspectors of Central Excise w.e.f. 1-1-1996. Hence it is requested that the Govt. may be urgently urged upon to grant this retrospective effect w.e.f. 1-1-1996 and set right the anomaly. This also automatically solves the problem placed in “A” above.

C. CLARIFICATION REQUIRED FOR NON-FUNCTIONAL SELECTION GRADE:
In the revised pay rules under Department of Revenue the Income Tax Officers/ Superintendents of Customs & Central Excise have been placed in Pay Band PB-2 with grade pay Rs. 4800 to be upgraded to Grade Pay Rs. 5400 after 4 yeas in the post. Hence, it is conferred from the above that the Revised Pay Structure of the Superintendents is Rs. 7500- 12000 with the Grade pay of Rs. 4800 for the first 4 years and thereafter at the Grade pay of Rs. 5400 (against the pay scale of Rs. 8000-13500) in the same Pay band viz. PB-2. Under the ACP scheme, the Inspectors who are Group B officers are upgraded to the pay scale of the next higher post viz., Superintendent and as the pay scale of Superintendents changes after 4 years, it automatically follows that such Inspectors would be placed in the pay scale of Rs. 7500- 12000 with grade pay of Rs. 4800, initially for 4 years, and then will move to the pay scale of Rs. 8000-13500 with grade pay of Rs.5400. It is pertinent to mention that when the Superintendents are upgraded to the pay scale of Rs. 8000-13500, there is no change in name and they continue to remain Superintendents. The above view is also in conformity with the Para X (a) of the Resolution dated 9.8.2008 issued with the 6th Pay Commission which states that the Group B officers of Department of Revenue who have put in 4 years of regular service in grade pay of Rs. 4800- in PB2 will be granted Grade Pay of Rs. 5400 in PB2 on non functional basis. We would like to ask Board to issue clarification on the above line to place the senior Inspectors who have got their A.C.P. and reached Rs. 7500- scale for the past 4 years to be placed in Rs. 8000- scale with grade pay Rs. 5400.

D. (B) PROPER ALLOWANCES FOR UNIFORM, RUMMAGING, RISK AND LOCAL TRAVEL EXPENSES.
The following legitimate requirements are required to be met in the interest of the department’s morale and in terms of equality:
· Grant of proper equipment and maintenance allowance for three sets of uniforms for personnel in Customs.
· Grant of Rummaging allowances for Officials posted in Customs area on par with the Officials of Customs.
· Grant of Local Travel Expenses for Inspectors on par with the Inspectors of Income Tax.
· Grant of Risk Allowance for Inspectors of Central Excise considering the risks attached to their duties and responsibilities.
Neither the 6th CPC report nor any of the OMs issued since thecabinet decision on CPC Report specifically addresses the point of Uniform Allowances for the Central Excise, Service Tax and Customs officers. It clearly demonstrates the fact that government puts no importance towards continuance of Uniform in these services and hence it is time to issue necessary orders abolishing Uniform, which has become an ornament for the non-uniformed higher officers in the form of irregular protocol duties.

II - FUNCTIONAL NEEDS:
A - STEPS TO BE TAKEN FOR REMOVAL OF ACUTE STAGNATION IN INSPECTOR CADRE.

Even after the restructuring of the department in 2002, the level of stagnation in the cadre of Inspectors of Central Excise has not reduced. This is inspite of the fact that one of the stated objectives of the restructuring was to take care of stagnation. Even today there are Inspectors who have completed 20 years of service as Inspectors and have not yet got even the first promotion in their career. Considering that the promotion of an Inspector as Superintendent itself is nothing substantial in one’s career given the fact that only one increment would be the difference after such a long innings. The non-availability of even such a small change in one’s social ladder has not been addressed. The regional imbalances within the Central Excise Zones and between Central Excise and Customs are alarming that they would evidence total neglect of personnel management in the CBEC.

At the time of our visit to New Delhi, we have come to know that the Board is going to appoint a Committee to see the feasibility of separate Service Rules for all the Group B Gazetted and non-Gazetted Executive Officers under the Board. This association hopes that the appointed Committee would suggest concrete steps in this regard. We request you to invite us for a discussion at the earliest.

B - ABOLITION OF CONTROL ROOMS AND UNIFORM IN C.EX AND SERVICE TAX.
Even while preaching an assessee friendly approach and change in mind set of the staff of the department, the CBEC itself firmly stands rooted to its colonial past. After the liberalization of excise and customs laws there is absolutely no justification to maintain Control Rooms and that too at a very high cost. Similarly, Uniform in Central Excise has become irrelevant and more of a mockery after the liberalization of Excise laws and introduction of Service Tax as the main base for indirect inland tax. The Kelkar Committee on Indirect Taxes (2002) specifically recommended abolition of uniform in Service Tax and Central Excise, but the department is yet to overcome the protocol euphoria with a uniformed officer.
We envisage that to update the mind of the department, the first two steps need to be put ahead to keep up with the time, is to abolish ‘Control Room’ which has lost its sanctity with suppression of the Central Excise Rules 1944 with the Central Excise Rules 2002 and further replacement of the departmental ‘Preventive Manual’ with the ‘Anti-Evasion Manual’. Unfortunately, it appears that Board itself is unsure of the Government initiatives and its own intentions and continues to pamper an environment that helps continuance of Control Rooms just to greet the officers and play to their egos day in and day out.
As for Uniform and protocol duty, even when it is an open fact that the assessees despise uniform, officers often insist on wearing uniform to threaten the assessees and misutilise the situation arising. Despite several representations from our side the most disturbing part in the matter is that the Board is unwilling to acknowledge the fact that the ‘Control Raj’ is over and any reminiscence of it only helps the cursed side of the raj.

It is ardently requested to close ‘Control Rooms’ and abolish uniforms in Service Tax and Central Excise.

C- REVISION OF PROMOTION QUOTA BETWEEN SUPDTS OF CENTRAL EXCISE AND SUPDTS OF CUSTOMS TO POSTS OF ASSISTANT COMMISSIONERS AS PER PRESENT CADRE STRENGTHS.

The ratio or 6:1:2 for promotion of Superintendents of Central Excise, Customs and Appraisers to the cadre of Group ‘A’, was fixed much before the 2002 restructuring of the department. Due to the change in the composition of the cadres after the re-structuring the ratio ought to have been revised.

D- MERGER OF EXCISE AND CUSTOMS.

A policy decision to merge the Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ cadres of Excise and Customs was taken by the CBEC in the year 1996 itself. But till date it has not been implemented. The non-implementation of the Board’s own decision even during the re-structuring in 2002 has served to give only a bleak picture. Hence the merger has to be effected with effect from 1996.
In the event of the above not being implemented from the date of the decision, in order to bring down the disparities in promotional avenues within the Excise zones and between Excise and Customs in CBEC, the feasibility of making amendments to the Group ‘A’ Recruitment Rules to make the total length of service from the cadre of Inspector as the criteria for promotion to the cadre of Superintendents (since the post of Superintendents are 100% by promotion alone) has to be examined.

E- INTER-COMMISSIONERATE TRANSFERS.

Inter-Commissionerate transfers had been abolished by the CBEC thus prohibiting citizens in Government Service from opting to serve in any other part of India. Recruitments after 1997 are being done only on the basis of All India Ranking in the SSC Exam and postings are given to various parts of the country. In such a situation revival of inter-commissionerate transfers on request or alternative mechanism instead of the deputations as at present to enable persons to get transferred to any place in India due to personal problems has to be envisaged. It has also to be emphasized that initial postings should be done on the basis of the residential addresses of the candidates to ensure least difficulty due to the All India posting. To enable this requisition for dossiers may be made by the CBEC itself once in six months.

F- JCMS AT COMMISSIONERATE and at the DEPARTMENTAL LEVEL.

An amicable, open and transparent working relationship within the office is a fundamental requirement for good governance/ administration. The 3-tier JCM (Joint Consultative Machinery) scheme was introduced by the Union Government only to cater this need. An open discussion forum like the JCM meetings with the staffside ensures the wholehearted participation of the staff in achieving the targets of the department. Apart from that, only a transparent administration could ensure that vested interests do not succeed in controling the administration.
Sadly, none of the 3-tiers of the JCM is working in a timely and proper manner in our department, with meetings not held in the department as also in many of the Commissionerates. This is creating divides between the administration and the staff side in such Commissionerates. Specific order has already been issued in this regard. We request you to ensure that J.C.Ms are held periodically in all Commissionerates and in the Departmental level.

G - TRANSPARENT TRANSFER POLICY.

Guidelines for proper transfer policies, in the light of changes effected over a period of time and to ensure transparency in administration, are required to be issued at various levels. Towards that, the CBEC is required to issue broad Guidelines to its formations so that, at the Commissionerate levels and zonal levels, transfer policies are evolved by the local administrations in consultation with the staff representatives.
H. "COMPASSIONATE APPOINTMENTS:
We would like to request our chairman for one time relaxation in providing compassionate appointments. We would like to inform to our Chairman that in CBDT last month all the pending compassionate appointment cases has been cleared [right from applicants who had deceased in the 1990s] and provided them with suitable posts in Income Tax offices. You would be aware that in some Commissionerates despite our relentless persuasion for this cause many of the applications for compassionate appointment of the deceased family has been turned down on the plea that DOPT issued one instruction in 2003 wherein they have prescribed for termination of the applications for compassionate appointment within a span of 3 years, we request that 3 years time limit has to be withdrawn at least once. We would like to inform that barring a few Commissionerate no realistic exercise or committee were formed to explore the compassionate applicants cases and the cadre association had not been taken into confidence; therefore, denial of appointment on the basis of DOPT instructions issued in 2003 seems reprehensible. Hence, all the applicants who were in the compassionate applicants list and not provided appointment should be considered giving one time relaxation and such applicants may be provided immediate appointment. Hope you would appreciate the importance of the above point and take up the issue in a sympathetic consideration and all pending cases may be provided with an appointment on compassionate ground rather than restricting or removing applicants based on 3 years expiry etc.

I- TRANSPARANCY AND UNIFORMITY IN ALLOTMENT OF DEPARTMENTAL GUEST HOUSES.

Non-inclusion of the staff representatives in the management of the accounts of the Customs Welfare Fund gives room for various misgivings among the members of the department. Even in respect of the maintenance of guesthouses of the department,
for which funds are released from welfare fund, in very many places there is an unwritten code that the guest house is not to be allotted to non-Group ‘A’ Officers or even if allotted gets cancelled at the last moment due to a subsequent accommodation of ‘Senior Officers’. Such practices demoralize the members of the staff and their family members due to such discriminatory treatment. The CBEC should issue strict instructions that allotment of Departmental Guest Houses should be made in a transparent manner and on a first come first serve basis without relation to the class/cadre of the seeker.
Instructions also should be issued to ensure participation of Staff representatives of all Cadres in the CBEC in the management of the Customs Welfare Fund.

J- ISSUE OF UNIQUE GPF ACCOUNT NUMBERS.
Allotment of unique GPF account numbers to persons serving in the CBEC is required to avoid the problems of missing credits during transfers from one PAO zone to another. The following points may provide some substance to our demand:
In the present G.P.F account numbering system all the officers had to apply for change of G.P.F account number after every 2-4 years under one seniority Zone. So, in transit a good no. of officers are loosing their balance and interest every year and also suffering from inordinate delay in getting their most urgently required GPF advances/ withdrawals.

Under one seniority Zone (which is likely to be most feasible parameter) a single G.P.F. Account No. should be allotted to every employee. All the Pay and Accounts Offices under the said seniority zone should operate under one Deputy Controller of Accounts. In this way frequent change of Account Number can be stopped and loosing of balance and interest will go away perpetually. This will also do away with the inordinate delay in transferring G.P.F balance and the harassment faced by the officers at the time of G.P.F. withdrawal.

Another option would be allotment of 10 digit unique GPF account number which can be loaded on a server maintained by the Pay and Accounts Offices like the SAPS/ SACER system adopted by our Department for registration of the Assessees, wherein the first three digits would be for the Department code, the next two digit would be for the Seniority Zone code, the next one digit would be for the Commissionerate code (this may be optional), next four digit would be for unique serial number or existing account number of officer within the Seniority Zone.

· Illustration: GPF A/c No. 1234567890
· 123 - Department Code
· 45 - Seniority Zone code
· 6 - Commissionerate code
· 7890- Existing account number of officer within the Seniority Zone

The necessity of secured online transfer of GPF Account Balance from one PAO Office to other like the banking industry is the need of the day. This is doable as the PAO Offices in our Department are fully Computerised and are equipped with internet facility.

K- SEPARATE ORGANISATIONAL SET UP FOR ATTENDING TO QUESTIONS UNDER THE RTI ACT.

Numerous petitions are filed every day by various persons requiring information from the department, under the Right to Information Act. It is extremely important to give the correct information and only the correct information in every case. Since the RTI Act is a new one and decisions are coming out daily, separate sections may be envisaged especially in the hdqrs to assist each Public Information Officer so that the correct position in law could be adhered to, while making available the desired information. Such a formation with willing and trained officers would ensure that unscrupulous elements do not take advantage of the Act to create nuisance to the department or to thwart investigations and adjudication of cases.

L - RISK INTELLIGENCE NETWORK MECHANISM AT COMMISSIONERATE LEVEL TO INTER-CHANGE DATA RELATED TO DIRECT AND INDIRECT TAXES TO INVESTIGATE IN PROFESSIONAL METHOD.

A machinery/mechanism to share, correlate, develop and utilise data pertaining to Indirect taxes and direct taxes at the level of Commissionerate level offices would enable broad based investigations in the department.

M - INFRASTRUCTURE FOR FORMATIONS.

Provisions for proper infrastructure like furniture in offices, vehicles for executive work and computers to enable smooth implementation of computerization are required to be made.
In the light of the transfer liabilities, the satisfaction limit in the case of executive officers in respect of residential accommodation should be made as 100%.

N - PERIODICAL TRAINING ON ALL FIELDS OF ACTIVITIES.

Periodical refresher courses and training programmes are mandatory for enabling a change in the mindset as well as effective implementation of the ever-changing laws.

O - DUTY LIST FOR ALL OFFICIALS SERVING IN CBEC.

Clear demarcation of duties to each cadre is required, in the light of changing laws and cadre compositions, and also in the light of the study undertaken at the instance of the VI Pay Commission regarding the feasibility of introducing Performance Related Pay in the department.
Though the oft-repeated excuse for not having a duty list is that every one should be prepared to do any work in an organization, the actual practice of a no-man’s land would lead to utter lawlessness and perpetuate feudalism.
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