Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today asked tax collectors to become technology-savvy and develop an effective intelligence system to prevent evasion and punish wrong-doers.
"Tax evaders, as well as smugglers, are getting increasingly more sophisticated, using modern technology... you must also develop an effective intelligence system to not only check the evasion of taxes but also punish the wrong-doers," he said.
Mukherjee said this while speaking at the annual conference of the Chief Commissioners and Directors General of Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax.
"It is... essential that your intelligence, investigation and regulatory wings must get more and more technology-savvy," he told the taxmen responsible for collection of indirect taxes, who have a target to mop up Rs 3.13 lakh crore during the current fiscal.
Increased use of IT and upgradation of government agencies' cyber capabilities, Mukherjee said, could play a decisive role in checking tax evasion.
"If a tax system could be evolved to follow up on paper and other evidentiary trails, the tax evaders and other economic offenders can easily be brought to book," he added.
Later, talking to reporters, Mukherjee expressed the hope that Goods and Services Tax (GST), which seeks to subsume various indirect taxes, would be introduced from April 1, 2011.
Discussions, he added, were on with the state governments, as introduction of GST would require amendments to the Constitution and the consent of the states.
The new tax would be administered by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, he said, adding that it would be an administrative challenge for the officials, as the number of taxpayers would rise from 13 lakhs to 50 lakhs.
The Finance Minister further said that he held informal discussions with the Chief Ministers of the eastern states on the sidelines of the bankers' meet at Patna yesterday.
The minister will also be taking up the issue of GST with the Chief Ministers of the western states at the next bankers' meeting, to be held in Mumbai on June 28.
With regard to corruption, Mukherjee said there is a need to focus on preventive vigilance and "adopt a strategy of zero tolerance".
However, he was against filing of chargesheets against officials on their last day of service. "I want that no chargesheets are filed against our own employees on the last day of retirement after they have put in more than 30 years of service to the government," he added.