With the separation of the audit and accounts functions in the Government of India since 1976, the Secretary of each Ministry/Department is designated as the Chief Accounting Authority who is assisted by a Principal Chief Controller of Accounts (Pr. CCA) or Chief Controller of Accounts (CCA) or Controller of Accounts (CA) in carrying out the payment, accounting and internal audit functions.
Accordingly, Secretary (Revenue) is the designated Chief Accounting Authority of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) in the Ministry of Finance and the Pr. CCA is the head of the accounting organization (equivalent to Additional Secretary to the Government of India). Pr. CCA, CBIC ensures the smooth disbursal of payments, accounting and analysis of expenditures and revenues (indirect taxes), preparation of the Annual Financial Statements such as Appropriation Accounts and Statement of Central Transactions (SCT) for the Union Finance Accounts.
In addition, the O/o Pr. CCA, CBIC, is the designated authority for prescribing banking arrangements for collection of indirect taxes by nominated public and private sector banks. Further, the O/o Pr. CCA, monitors the collections of indirect taxes through the banking channels, while ensuring its timely remittal to Government accounts. Penalties are levied on defaulting banks in delays caused in timely remittances of revenues. The O/o Pr. CCA is also entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out the Internal Audit function of the department and conducting system audit of the nominated/accredited banks in respect of indirect tax collections. Presently, work is in progress towards putting in place a system for conducting risk-based internal audit of key functions of CBIC.
Pr. CCA renders financial or technical accounting advice to the Department on matters relating to banking arrangements, collection, accounting and internal controls, and the appropriate accounting classification of indirect taxes. In carrying out the above functions, Pr. CCA is assisted by one Chief Controller of Accounts (CCA), (equivalent to Joint Secretary to Government) two Controllers of Accounts (CAs) (equivalent to Director/Deputy Secretary), four Deputy Controllers of Accounts (DCAs) (equivalent to Under Secretary) posted at four zonal offices, and 79 Pay and Accounts Officers posted in the Pay and Accounts Offices (PAO’s) located across the country.
The organization of Pr. CCA, CBIC has been in the fore front of harnessing and leveraging Information Technology (I.T) aimed at ensuring an effective and efficient revenue and expenditure accountal system. Several application softwares are used for ensuring the timely submission of both revenue accounts and expenditures of the Department. They include a re-designed revenue accounting software called COMPACT (Revact) developed on the same platform of expenditure accounting software COMPACT.
e-Lekha is another web-based application that has been established which facilitates an Online Financial Information System by which all 79 Pay and Accounts Offices under CBIC upload daily expenditure and revenue collection data onto the e-Lekha application maintained by the O/o the Controller General of Accounts in the Ministry of Finance. The data uploaded by these 79 Pay and Accounts Offices under CBIC is accessible to decision makers within the Government by the 10th of the following month.
In recent times, the O/o Pr. CCA, CBIC has introduced an Electronic Accounting Solution for e-Receipts (EASeR) aimed at ensuring timely and accurate reporting of Central Excise and Service Tax duties remitted through e-Payment mode. The collation and accountal of these e-Payment receipts are performed by the e-Pay and Accounts Office (Central Excise) located at Chennai and e-Pay and Accounts Office (Service Tax) located at Mumbai. Approximately 97% of Central Excise duties and 80% of Service Tax collections are presently collected through the e-Payment mode. This has been one of the most significant e-Governance initiatives introduced by the O/o Pr. CCA, CBIC in the areas of accounting and reconciliation of e-Receipts. As recognition of this achievement, both e-PAOs have been conferred with the prestigious Controller General of Accounts (CGA) Best Practise Award in March, 2011. Other awards conferred were on 6 Pay and Accounts Offices (PAOs) of CBIC as “Best Performing Pay and Accounts Office”.
On similar lines, the O/o Pr. CCA, CBIC has initiated the process of setting up an e-PAO (Customs) to be located at New Delhi. This office, to be operational from June, 2011, will be solely responsible for the accountal of customs duties received through e-Payment mode relating to all Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) locations across the country. This accountal initiative will contribute to increasing the operational efficiency of customs duty collection and will facilitate the Importer/Exporter to remit customs duties through e-Payment mode from anywhere.
Another major I.T initiative taken by the office in recent times is through the setting-up of a Multi-Protocol Level Switching Virtual Private Network (MPLSVPN) which will connect all 79 field offices located all over the country with a Central Server at the HQs in New Delhi. The required software application for this project is under development and testing. On completion, the Central Server will have the capabilities of generating various types of MIS reports, a Centralized Delay Monitoring Module (CDMM) for monitoring delays in remittance of indirect tax revenues by the banks to the Government account. The generation of these MIS reports will contribute towards improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the accountal functions of CBIC.
The O/o Pr. CCA, CBIC is presently closely associated with the Government’s initiative of introducing the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) scheduled for implementation from 1st July, 2017. The office has been entrusted with the task of preparing the Accounting Procedure for the new tax, including its related Government banking arrangements.
Dr Shankari Murali, (ICAS:) is presently posted as the Principal Chief Controller of Accounts in the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs.