CHANDIGARH: With the Punjab government's move to restructure its excise and taxation department to separate both wings, and re-designate its posts to Central excise and customs, around 300 officers have been on mass casual leave for the second consecutive day as a mark of protest.
The excise and taxation (ETO) officers have been agitating against the posting of Punjab civil service (PCS) officers as district heads and will continue their protest will July 18.
The ETO Association has expressed their resentment over the appointment of junior PCS officers as Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioners (district heads) in Amritsar, Jalandhar-I and Ludhiana-II, in a memorandum submitted to Excise and Taxation Commissioner (ETC), Punjab.
"The whole cadre is feeling short-changed due to diversion from the promises made by the management regarding re-designation and restructuring. Not only these issues have been relegated to back burner but even the present status quo is not being maintained. The post of AETC is an important cog in the management of taxes at District level. It is thus critical that a person well versed with the nuances of GST Act and Excise Act be only posted on these posts so that proper tax administration can be upheld at district level. But the association is appalled to see the post being offered to very junior PCS officers, some of whom have not even cleared their probation,'' read the memorandum.
"This has created a lot of heartburn in the cadre and overall morale of the officers working in the department. It is thus the demand of the cadre that PCS officers may only be posted in administrative posts at Headquarter level. The PCS officers shall be able to serve better there in administrative capacity as they are generalists. It will also be a service to them as to learn nuances of law and implementation of the same is not possible for them in capacity of AETC. Due to inaction of government to address the important issues that are creating problems with all the cadre it has been resolved that all ETOs of Punjab shall go on mass casual leave for three days,'' it further stated.
Bhupinder Singh Bhatia President of ETO Association said that these districts are very important for the department when it comes to revenue collection. "This is an unwise decision by the government to appoint such junior officers." Some of the other demands are pay revision of taxation officers, re-designation and restructuring of the department with parity to the central government and other states, he added.
The association has already submitted various representations earlier on the important issues concerning the cadre and the department, but no attention has been paid by the government.
Bhatia said that they would intensify the agitation if their demands will not be fulfilled.