We need more tax Champions: Dr. Rashmi Singh, IAS
Dr. Rashmi Singh, IAS, Commissioner State Taxes, J&K is an administrator of par excellence. In an exclusive interview with News Kashmir she talks to Farzana Mumtaz and Rameez Makhdoomi.
Tell us about your journey ?
My journey actually started in Bihar and at that time in Bihar not many girls were encouraged to pursue higher education. My parents were encouraging always and seeing my dedication towards education they took an unconventional choice of sending me outside Bihar for higher studies when I could study in one of India’s premier college for girls ie , Lady Sri Ram College Delhi .
In my school days . I had studied till 5 th in Delhi and then back in Bihar from 6th to 12 th class. Then I thought of Civil services which was seen as coveted service then as Government sector was first choice due to less developed private sector those days and the larger impression prevailing that through cracking IAS exam one could have best opportunities for public service
I have served in Bundelkhand Uttar Pradesh wherein my husband was posted. He is from Uttar Pradesh Cadre of IAS. But then he got posted somewhere else and I too had to join back in Delhi as my parent cadre has been UT.
I realise that You cant demand so called luxury of living with family all the time if both of you are in civil services. Before coming here in J and k I was posted in Delhi handling WCD and Social welfare and also served as Secretary Municipal council New Delhi, secretary in industry dept of Andaman and Nicobar besides also serving inGOI in ministry of WCD
How is experience of Kashmir different from other places ?
I have served mostly in Social sector with focus on Child development, women empowerment, and programs related with vulnerable sectors. Now coming here to Jammu and Kashmir first challenge was to understand the socio cultural economic milieu of the place . there has been lot of enigma about the place. I began to understand the local culture more and more especially about a place that is not understood much or even misunderstood. Having been in Social sector I was focusing more on spending for welfare and development of vulnerable section but here as Tax administrator I am dealing with augmenting revenue for the government through tax collection. I have tried to make taxation system more robust out here. I applied my social sector and convergence experience too even in this sector and talked to my officers how we can work more in integrated and united way. I found we can utilize same experience as in social sector in economic sector too as fundamentals of governance are same- that is bridging the gaps and connecting dots. It is not that everybody wants to evade taxes but information gaps and lack of synergy creates problems.
We have to also understand that Jammu and Kashmir are diverse regions with different set of local contexts even within the two divisions I have also been in Billawar, district Kathua as part of ‘back to village’ initiative of government as a prabhari officer. My focus here has been to facilitate better synergy at grassroots level governance and ensure wheels of development together move for betterment of that place and also catalyse action to ensure that government policy and programs are fully implemented on ground at a GP level
How did you manage to run canteen in Srinagar state tax department complex again?
A good question. The typical tender mode had not fetched any successful bids and our employees had to go outside for food . we roped in NRLM and it is their Women self group are running the canteen now as we reposed faith in them and also mentored the group.
How far has GST regime enhanced taxation in a place like Jammu and Kashmir?
The taxation system has been revolutionized to a large extent since GST got rolled out in J and K too making this tax reform truly one nation one tax. The kind of jump in terms of revenue through GDT has been very encouraging for our department. We had initially started with just around 2500 crore in 2017 and GST collection now is 7300 crore and initially in 2017 we had just 70000 tax payers now we have more than 1.30 lac tax payers. We have also seen 28 percent jump in tax compliance with 97 percent returns getting filed on time . the process being digital from registration to filling is both efficient and transparent even though it has involved lot of capacity enhancement of our team of officers and tax payers alike .
Are we are moving towards an era wherein we are viewing tax as word of respect than fear ?
Ÿes by promoting tax paying compliance behsviour we are encouraging people from those in buisness to consumers that they should take pride as they are contributing to development of the country by paying taxes honestly.
What is being to raise awareness about taxation system ?
See I am talking to you – this is also part of raising awareness . Through our different circles we are reaching out to all important stakeholders like trade associations, bar associations, buisness chambers, CAs and other important bodies rasing awareness about GST taxation compliance. We are also providing helping hand wherever people feel difficulty in filling of returns or face any other issue. We are also using social media to promote awareness. The days of tax evasion are coming to an end steadily.
What is your message ?
My message is that people should become partners in taxation process. We want more tax ambassadors, be it student or traders. We need more tax champions . People are partners in developmental process.