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Friday, September 17, 2021

Not right at all: Nirmala Sitharaman on Panchjanya attack on Infosys

“That wasn’t right... and I think they also had a statement coming, distancing themselves from whoever wrote it. I think that was not called for and rightly, people have withdrawn themselves from associating themselves with it... that (article) wasn’t right at all,” Sitharaman said.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
September 14, 2021 4:12:53 am
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Monday said the article published in the RSS-affiliated Panchjanya, which accused Infosys of being “anti-national” and working to “destabilise“ the Indian economy, was “not right” and that the government was working with the IT major to resolve glitches in the new Income Tax e-filing portal.

To a specific query on the Panchjanya article, Sitharaman told CNN-News18 in an interview, “That wasn’t right… and I think they also had a statement coming, distancing themselves from whoever wrote it. I think that was not called for and rightly, people have withdrawn themselves from associating themselves with it… that (article) wasn’t right at all.”

The RSS distanced itself from Panchjanya’s September 5 cover story, titled ‘Saakh aur Aghaat (Reputation and Harm)’. Saying Infosys has made “seminal contribution in progress of the country”, RSS spokesperson Sunil Ambekar tweeted last week, “…the article published by Panchjanya in this context only reflects individual opinion of the author. Panchjanya is not mouthpiece of the RSS and the said article or opinions expressed in it should not be linked with the RSS”.

Sitharaman said the “government and Infosys are working together” to ensure that issues related to the portal are resolved. “Strictly speaking, I think the government and Infosys are working together. I had, of course, called them twice, also drew the attention of Nandan Nilekani. And they are working together with us. They are also being helped by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. They have also brought in some tax experts to work with them.”

“And I am hopeful that Infosys will give us the product… yes, it has been delayed, it has hurt a lot of assessees. We brought in a portal with a lot of expectations but… had glitches. All of that taken on board, I think we should work together to get that done and I am confident that Infosys will work it out,” she said.

After nearly three months of glitches in the revamped e-filing portal of the Income Tax Department, Finance Ministry officials held two meetings with Infosys MD & CEO Salil Parekh last month. Sitharaman had summoned Parekh to explain the reasons for the continuing glitches. Infosys was in 2019 awarded the contract to develop the new system to reduce processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and expedite refunds.

In June, the morning after the launch, Sitharaman tweeted: “The much-awaited e-filing portal 2.0 was launched last night at 20:45hrs. I see in my TL grievances and glitches. Hope @Infosys & @NandanNilekani will not let down our taxpayers in the quality of service being provided. Ease in compliance for the taxpayer should be our priority.”

Citing difficulties reported by the taxpayers and other stakeholders, the Central Board of Direct Taxes last Thursday decided to further extend the due dates for filing of Income Tax Returns and various reports of audit for the Assessment Year 2021-22.

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