Infosys has admitted it has missed the Indian government's deadline to fix the tax portal it built, but which has been a glitchy mess since its June 2021 launch.
The portal was introduced to make filing taxes more efficient. It delivered the opposite – India's government was forced to extend filing deadlines amid user complaints that they found the portal impossible to use. The portal was even placed into "emergency maintenance" mode at one point, during which it was completely unavailable.
Infosys was shamed by ministers and on August 22nd was given a September 15th deadline to fix the portal.
The Register asked Infosys and India's Department of Finance if the deadline has been met and received no reply for days.
Today Infosys has alerted us to the existence of a statement dated September 23rd in which the company states "taxpayers' concerns [are] being progressively addressed" and that 30 million taxpayers have successfully completed various transactions.
But the statement also indicates that Infosys "acknowledges the difficulties some users continue to experience and is working expeditiously, in collaboration with the Income Tax Department, to further streamline end-user experience.
"Even as it makes steady progress, Infosys recognizes the ongoing challenges faced by some users and has engaged with more than 1200 taxpayers directly to better understand their concerns," the statement adds, noting that the company has "more than 750 resources" working on the project "to complete significant portions of work, in collaboration with officials from the Income Tax Department."
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Next comes a patriotic flourish.
"Infosys takes pride in partnering with the Government of India and continues to work closely with various departments to accelerate the digital evolution of the country's technology capabilities."
The Register offers that quote because the tax portal and Infosys's role in it became enormously controversial thanks to an article about the project, and the company, in a magazine called Panchajanya that is published by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - a Hindu nationalist organisation aligned with India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The article listed past domestic Infosys failures and wondered if the company might not be quite the paragon of Indian industry it has been made out to be, but rather has an agenda to destabilise the nation's economy due to its extensive offshore presence and commitments.
Panchajanya's links to the RSS led to opposition criticism that India's government was attacking a national icon and bulwark of the economy! However, the story was widely and rightly ridiculed (it also mentioned racist conspiracy theories) and the RSS distanced itself from the article.
Panchjanya is not mouthpiece of the RSS and the said article or opinions expressed in it should not be linked with the RSS. @editorvskbharat— Sunil Ambekar (@SunilAmbekarM) September 5, 2021
Did Infosys chose to state its patriotic pride in today's announcement as a comment on its loyalty being called into question?
Whatever its reasons, the fact remains that the portal remains in need of so much work that more than 750 people are required to do it. And that alone means Infosys can't escape criticism.
At the time of writing, the politicians who lined up to give Infosys a kicking over the affair remain silent on social media. But individual taxpayers continue to complain. ®