New Delhi: Officers of the Indian Post & Telecom Accounts and Finance Service (IP&TAFS) have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a single accounts and finance service or “One Nation, One Accounts & Finance Service”.
In a letter addressed to PM Modi, the NITI Aayog, and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), among others, the Association of the IP&TAFS has asked for the merger of five audit services, namely, the Indian Civil Accounts Service (ICAS), the IP&TAFS, the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS), and the Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS).
They have said a merger of these services will streamline the auditing processes in the country, and allow for wider adoption of each of their best practices.
The letter also cites the Modi government’s 2019 decision to merge eight railway services into a common Indian Railway Managerial Service (IRMS). Officers of the IP&TAFS told ThePrint separately that the merger had helped firm up their decision to push for their demand.
Sent last week, the letter has been accessed by ThePrint.
“We request your good office to consider the merger of various organised accounts services in Government of India and either merge all of them with the Indian Audit Accounts Service (IA&AS) as per recommendation (of the 6th Pay Commission) or create new Indian Accounts & Finance Service (IAFS) by merging all various organised accounts services except IA&AS,” the letter states.
Speaking to ThePrint, Kashi Nath Jha, former general secretary of the association, said all the “audit services are doing more or less the same work… There is no rationale to have them as separate services”.
“With widespread computerisation, limited manual work and standardisation of auditing practices across the country, it is time that the services are merged,” he added. “This government is strong enough to take bold reforms, and hence there is a push.”
ThePrint has approached the spokesperson of the DoPT, through phone call and message, to ask if this proposal is being considered by the government, but there was no response until the time of publishing.
To tackle ‘IAS hegemony over top posts’
An officer of the IA&AS said the merger will allow the resulting financial service to serve as an expertise-based service for all financial and audit matters in the country, while also tackling what is seen as the IAS’ hegemony over top audit posts.
Just last month, the appointment of former Jammu & Kashmir lieutenant governor G.C. Murmu, a 1985-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, as Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had spurred resentment among many IA&AS officers.
“Right now, all the important auditing posts are also taken up by the IAS. This is what happened in the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)… Even though so many IA&AS officers were eligible, an IAS officer was picked,” the officer said.
“If the accounts services are merged, this kind of IAS hegemony will stop since the service would be a formidable one,” the officer added. “Right now, while specialised cadres exist, the telecom secretary is an IAS officer, the CAG is an IAS officer, etc. This is highly unfair to the specialised cadres.”
Earlier this year too, the associations of all the five audit services had written to the DoPT requesting a merger.
In 2008, the 6th Central Pay Commission had suggested merging different organised accounting cadres with the IA&AS.
“Apart from the IA&AS, other organised Group A accounts services exist like Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service, etc… The government should look into the feasibility of merging various other organised central Group A accounts services with IA&AS, which will facilitate more efficient functioning and use of resources,” the report had said.
“A committee to look into this issue may, therefore, be constituted by the government at the earliest.”
No action has been taken in this regard so far.