Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), which has lost 110 officials and staff members so far to the pandemic, has launched a scheme to provide financial and medical assistance to its officials and staff members affected by the pandemic.
The scheme called ‘Aashvaasan’ also offers essential supplies and transport support to covid-affected staff members. In cases where a member of staff, who was the sole breadwinner of his/her family, died from covid, the covid response team of CBIC has been asked to collect applications from family members for employment on compassionate grounds, according to a communication the CBIC issued to its officials on Monday.
The loss of manpower for CBIC comes at a time when the tax authority is managing the huge humanitarian relief pouring into India round the clock. In the last two weeks, it handled supplies brought in by about 70 special flights from around the world in addition to clearing other shipments. The government has instructed customs officials to clear all covid-related supplies on high priority. CBIC said in an earlier communication to officials that it was pained to note that the department has lost the lives of many officers and staff across cadres and ranks, especially during the second wave of the pandemic.
The income tax (I-T) department, too, has lost a similar number of officials 119 so far to the pandemic, according to official estimates. The IT department, too, has been working with reduced staff to clear tax refunds, offer compliance relief measures and issue other needed notifications, said a tax official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mint reported on 3 May that the top rungs of India’s bureaucracy were facing a major manpower challenge, with key officials across central government departments and ministries indisposed following the surge in coronavirus infections. Some of these officials were managing critical healthcare matters.
An email sent to the finance ministry seeking comments for the story remained unanswered at the time of publishing.
Last week, Jitendra Singh, Union minister in the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, issued a statement that provisional pension will be paid to retired central government employees for one year from date of retirement and family pension will be paid immediately on receipt of claim from a family member of the deceased.