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Issues that may clinch appointment of next Revenue Secretary

By IndianMandarins- 14 Nov 2018
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The NaMo administration is all set to announce the name of the OSD to Department of Revenue- ahead of the retirement of the outgoing Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia (IAS:1981:GJ), the end of the month. The named OSD will take over the charge from Adhia.

 

It is believed in official circles that the appointment of the OSD/next Revenue Secretary may be decided on the merit of his/her capability as an officer who could earn the goodwill of businesses as well as voters/taxpayers by virtue of their imaginative and creative handling of this critical department ahead of the the critical 2019 LS elections that may decided the fate of PM Modi.

 

Since all administrations tend to have four categories of officers - ideological, idealist, and pragmatic, besides an exclusive category that has the attributes of all the three in right proportions, it is to be seen which category is preferred by the administration in the appointment of a new Revenue Secretary.

 

The outgoing Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia, is considered an officer with unimpeachable integrity and honesty and has been often seen as too idealistic and less practical, even though well-meaning and well-intentioned. It was evident when he functioned as Banking Secretary (DFS, Secretary): he not only discouraged big loan seekers from seeking appointments with him, he declined to meet them as well. He was also seen reluctant in meeting bank MDs & CEOs. His idealistic behaviour verging on aloofness is said to have caused too many issues of compliance & avoidable pain when the GST was rolled out under his leadership as Revenue Secretary.

 

It is claimed by some officials that GST was implemented and formalised in haste and it consumed as much as 08-09 months to consider the rationalisation and fitment of tax rates after the PMO became active. However, Adhia's aloofness brought the process of GST rate rationalisation to an abrupt termination after the first tranche of fitness and rate-revision was executed at the behest of the PMO.

 

In today's complex business environment, the Govt requires an RS who is more practical the outgoing one and has a crystallised understanding of business reality. Since the GST story is not yet over, the government may need and prefer an officer for the post of RS who may handle issues pragmatically. 

 

It is generally believed that GST issues are still haunting small and medium businesses and there is a pressing need to mitigate their problems and help them sort out their paralysing problem of shortage of capital through a further rationalisation of GST rates.

 

Besides the GST, the country is also targeting increasing the taxpayers' base as well as overall tax collection. It goes to the credit of Adhia and his CBDT colleague Sushil Chandra that together, with their team, they have been able to increase the tax collection to a phenomenal level of about Rs 10.5 lakh crores even as the grievances of the taxpayers declined to an all-time low thanks to their efforts to ensure that the tax authorities addressed the issue of taxpayers urgently and immediately.

 

So, the next revenue secretary has to be a person who could carry the good work of Adhia and Sushil Chandra ahead, besides attending to the emerging problems of businesses - particularly small and medium ones.

 

Though two names are doing rounds prominently for the job but it would be interesting to see if there is a dark-horse as well.  

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