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CBEC protest now turns pro-GST

From mass scale protests and wearing black bands by senior revenue officials to protest Goods and Service Tax (GST), the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) Chief is now asking field officials to align their thinking with the virtues of GST and take urgent steps to increase awareness. The new CBEC Chief Vanaja Sarna, who took charge on April 1, has written to her field officials asking them to reorient themselves for GST. This comes weeks after her predecessor Najib Shah joined officers to protest against GST and observed Customs Day as ‘Black Day’ in January. “We need to align our thinking with the changes that GST shall bring forth and see ourselves as a national tax administration that has the expertise in work, acumen in enforcement, accountability in function and most of all integrity in our ethos,” Sarna wrote in the letter. “As the impact of the GST law becomes more defined in the days to follow, it will become evident that when we reorient ourselves as a federal tax administration, there will be a definite positive outcome,” she wrote. “While we focus our energies and attention on the immediate work at hand, the smooth transition to GST, there is no room for complacency or slackness in pursuing the goals we have set for ourselves in customs administration,” she said. The IRS Association had on January 27 refrained from celebrating Customs Day, and observed January 30 as a ‘Black Day’. They opposed giving more or equal powers to states especially on the service tax front, where the Centre had expertise, and for taxing economic activities within 12 nautical miles of the coast was a national security issue.

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