With the new I-T portal remaining unavailable for almost two consecutive days, the Finance Ministry has “summoned” Infosys MD and CEO Salil Parekh on Monday to explain to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman the reasons for continued glitches even after over two months of launch.
Meanwhile, the company in a late-evening tweet said emergency maintenance of the portal has concluded and the site is live. The new income tax e-filing portal “www.incometax.gov.in’, developed by Infosys, had a bumpy start from the day of its launch on June 7, as it continued to face tech glitches with users complaining that certain functionalities were either unavailable or working slow.
Consequently, the I-T department had to allow manual filing of remittance forms and also extend due dates for electronic filing of forms related to intimation by pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. “Ministry of Finance has summoned Sh Salil Parekh, MD &CEO @Infosys on 23/08/2021 to explain to hon’ble FM as to why even after 2.5 months since launch of new e-filing portal, glitches in the portal have not been resolved. In fact,since 21/08/2021 the portal itself is not available,” the Income Tax department tweeted.
Infosys India Business Unit in a late evening tweet said, “The emergency maintenance of the @IncomeTaxIndia portal has concluded and the portal is live. We regret any inconvenience caused to taxpayers.” Earlier on Sunday, Infosys had tweeted that the income tax portal was under emergency maintenance. On Saturday too it had tweeted that the portal is “inaccessible due to planned maintenance”.
Quoting the I-T department tweet, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Senior Advisor Kanchan Gupta tweeted, “This is the second major GoI project @Infosys has messed up. The first was #GST portal. Now it is #IncomeTax portal. Infosys bags GoI projects using L1 route which limits options. Clearly lacks either capacity or intent to deliver. Two ‘failures’ in a row cannot be coincidence”.
‘L1’ route refers to the lowest bidder in the tender for a contract. Infosys had also developed the GST Network (GSTN) portal, used for GST payments and returns filing. The software major had faced flak for slow functioning of the GSTN portal as well. As users complained of several glitches on the I-T portal after a fortnight of launch, Sitharaman had on June 22 called a meeting with key officials of Infosys to review the issues.
The minister had then asked Infosys to address all issues without further loss of time, improve their services, and redress grievances on priority as it was impacting taxpayers adversely. Infosys CEO Salil Parekh, and COO Pravin Rao, along with other company officials, took note of the issues highlighted by the stakeholders. They also acknowledged the technical issues in the functioning of the portal and shared the status of the resolution with respect to areas highlighted by the stakeholders, an official statement issued after the meeting had said.
In 2019, Infosys was awarded a contract to develop the next-generation income tax filing system to reduce processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and expedite refunds. Till June 2021, the government has paid Rs 164.5 crore to Infosys for developing the portal. Sitharaman last week had said that technical glitches in the new e-filing portal will be largely fixed in the next few days and that she has been constantly reminding Infosys about the matter.
“I have been reminding Infosys constantly, and (Infosys head) Nandan Nilekani has been messaging me with assurances that next couple of days they will sort out majority of problems,” she had said, adding that to a large extent, the system is far better than what it was in June but still some issues remain. The revenue secretary is monitoring this on a weekly basis, she had said, adding the glitches will be fixed largely in the next couple of weeks. Earlier this month, in a reply to a Parliament question on whether technical glitches continue to mar the functioning of the new I-T portal, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary had said most of the issues reported by taxpayers pertain to non-availability or technical issues of certain functionalities or forms.
“Certain key functionalities like user profile, dashboard, filing of ITR 1,2 & 4, e-proceedings including Video conferencing requests, Digital Signing Certificate, viewing of old Income Tax returns, e-verification, e-PAN service, Aadhaar-PAN Linking, Adding Authorised Representative, etc. are available to the users,” he had said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.