The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has asked the government for 25,000 more employees, equivalent to 40% of its current staffing level, to meet the growing workload.
The finance ministry unit helps formulate policy on the levy and collection of customs duties, central excise duties and service tax, besides prevention of smuggling, among other things.
It needs more staff for service tax collection and paperwork related to India’s growing import and export businesses apart from the number of people travelling to and from the country.
CBEC wants to boost its strength from 67,000 to 92,000, two government officials said. The finance ministry has already allowed it to increase junior staff, but it needs the approval of the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to add to the ranks of officers.
“We have requested for a 170% increase in our group A level officers (assistant commissioners and above) and around a 45% increase in group B level executive cadre officers (inspectors and superintendents),” said a finance ministry official, requesting anonymity.
While government staffing reviews typically take place every five years, CBEC had its last one done in 2002.
“With the modernization of most of the processes, there is a need for more officers at the higher level,” the official said. “With the focus on voluntary compliance and audit-based checks, intelligent supervision rather than routine supervision is required.”
CBEC has around 2,400 group A level officers and 34,000 group B level officers. In its proposal, it has asked DoPT to create 4,250 additional posts.
“There has been no expansion since 1994,” said the second government official, who also did not want to be identified. “It is the group B employees who have been exerting pressure to add more positions in the upper category so that they can be elevated.” Their promotions are stuck, he said.
DoPT may not find the request easy to grant.
“We do not want to disturb the equilibrium in group A, where more than 50% officers come as direct recruits through UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) and the rest are promoted from group B,” the second official said. “If we give such large (number of) posts, chances are that more group B employees will get promotion and their numbers would be higher than direct recruits. So we are struggling to find the right balance.”
UPSC conducts examinations to recruit bureaucrats.
The finance ministry official said the proposed increase in group A level officers will improve their ratio with group B level officers. “Group B officers are stagnating. They are not getting promotions as compared with peers,” he said.
CBEC also plans to improve training methods for lower-level staff and increase ministry-level staff to around 15,000 from 12,000, sepoys andhawaldars (constables) to 16,400 from 12,600 and stenographers to around 4,500 from 1,600.