India’s second-largest Information Technology (IT) company, Infosys, was selected as the managed service provider in November 2015 to roll out the Goods & Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2017. Infosys was tasked with completing six core tasks in a span of 18 months in a contract reportedly worth Rs 1,380 crore. These tasks covered the entire spectrum of creating an IT ecosystem required for rolling out GST in the time frame prescribed by the Modi administration.
The first task was application design, development, and its implementation. As part of this, Infosys was required to develop a common portal for registration, return, and payment services for all taxpayers, tax administrators, and other stakeholders under the GST regime. According to the Goods & Service Tax Network (GSTN), the quasi-government body overseeing the implementation of the GST, Infosys was also supposed to “build back-end systems for states to be used by the tax officials of these states”. This task, which was central to GST’s roll-out on time, was achieved by Infosys by creating the GST portal where all taxpayers were supposed to register themselves and all applications needed to be verified. The portal was launched in November 2016, almost a year after Infosys was chosen as the service provider.
The second task, classified as ‘taxpayer one-time data porting’, involved adapting the entire taxpayer data into the systems created for rolling out GST. The third task involved procurement and installation of IT infrastructure. In addition, Infosys was also supposed to put in place a security network to ensure that the GST’s online network remained impervious to cyber-attacks or other potential breaches from malicious elements.
Then came one of the most crucial tasks for the project that involved putting in place disaster recovery systems and providing bandwidth for the project. This was part of the back-end job that Infosys was supposed to do in order to have a Plan-B in place in case things went awry. Other back-end jobs tasked to Infosys included developing modules for approval of taxpayer’s registration, processing of returns, scrutiny of returns, assessment, and adjudication. These also included putting systems in place to ensure tax refunds, appeals, enforcement, surveys, and prosecution of errant taxpayers.
The fifth job on Infosys’ plate was to set up a GST help-desk for helping out those confounded by the new tax regime. The last task included training personnel to use the system. While these six tasks formed the core of the GST roll-out, there is one more task for which Infosys has been given more time — it is also responsible for maintaining and servicing the GST online ecosystem for five years after the roll-out date.
When contacted, Infosys said that it “recommended a conversation with GSTN”. A communication sent to GSTN did not elicit a response till the time of publication.