Government will fight economic winter with full force : Mukherjee

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New Delhi, Sep 8 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee revealed on Tuesday that India's export to its major traditional markets in the developed economies has contracted in the last ten months to combat this downturn in the economy, the government has announced a slew of measures.

Addressing a two-day Annual Conference of the Directors General and Chief Commissioners of Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax here, Mukherjee said the government is taking steps, including reduction in indirect taxes, to put more money into the hands of the consumers.

Mukherjee said, the government is taking all measures to counter the economic swing.

The fiscal deficit is presently on the higher side and the Government is determined to revert to the path of fiscal consolidation at the earliest, Mukherjee said.

Emphasising the role that central excise officers comply Mukherjee said, "As we rapidly integrate with the global economy, the role of Customs and Central Excise officers has to be redefined. They are as much facilitators of trade as tax collectors. CBEC's role is multi-faceted. It is one of the largest contributors to the central government revenues."

Analysing tax collection in the country, Mukherjee said: "I note with satisfaction that the tax base of the indirect taxes has grown steadily and as a share of GDP has gone up from 9.2 percent in 2003-04 to 12.6 percent in 2007-08. However, a matter of worry is that indirect tax receipts during 2009-10 upto July 2009 have shown a negative growth of 28 percent as compared to the last year."

"We need to focus on continuous reduction in dwell time and transaction cost for export and import so that the Indian industry gains an extra edge to compete in the world market. Further, it not only has to meet its traditional challenges of combating smuggling and commercial fraud, but has to respond to new challenges in areas as diverse as environment protection, transborder movement of goods having a bearing on national security and international negotiations in multilateral and bilateral for a," Mukherjee added.

For strengthing the central excise forces, Mukherjee said: "A multidimensional professional demand requires a paradigm shift in the way the department functions. In this regard, I am very glad to note the large-scale use of information technology in the department's day-to-day functioning. Equally heartening to note is the use of modern gadgets like container scanners and baggage scanners at ports and airports to detect smuggling in a more non-intrusive and real time basis."

Appreciating the work done by central excise in the field of risk management system,Mukherjee said : "All this not only reduces public interface but also provides more efficient and scientific basis for improving tax compliance and enforcement measures. I believe, the introduction of Risk Management System at main customs stations has considerably reduced dwell time of goods at ports and airports."

He also stressed on the need of creating a system of administration which is transparent, fair and conducive to realisation of the full potential of the officers at all levels.

"In order to improve professional efficiency, regular training of officers at every level needs to be given high priority. While corrupt elements should be dealt with sternly, the process of vigilance enquiry should not itself take the form of punishment.

Such inquiries must be disposed of in a time bound manner," Mukherjee said. (ANI)

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