India Having Tech Advisory Group for E-governance Projects

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The Indian government plans to set up a technology advisory group on e-governance projects, it said on Friday.

The move comes as the Indian government is preparing to invest in a large number of e-governance projects, including on a project to give unique identity (UID) numbers to the country's citizens.

"An effective tax administration and financial governance system calls for the creation of IT projects which are reliable, secure and efficient," the country's Minister of Finance, Pranab Mukherjee, said while presenting the country's annual budget in the Parliament.

The new group, called the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects, will be headed by Nandan Nilekani, former co-chairman of Indian outsourcer, Infosys Technologies.

Nilekani quit Infosys last year to head a newly created government agency, called Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which was charged with creating a system to give every Indian resident an UID number.

The first of these UIDs are expected to be issued in the Indian fiscal year beginning April 1, Mukherjee said.

In the budget, the government allotted an expenditure of 19 billion Indian rupees (US$409 million) for the year for the UID project. A number of Indian service providers and some multinational companies like Microsoft have said that they would like to be involved in the project.

The UID system will provide an effective platform for targeted subsidy payments, and offering financial services to more Indian people, Mukherjee said.

The Indian government is also rolling out a number of IT projects, including for tax information, pension schemes, and treasury management.

It has also computerized the administration of income taxes and other direct taxes, with an eye to reducing the physical interaction between taxpayers and tax administration, and speeding up procedures and processes, Mukherjee said. A centralized processing center at Bangalore is now in operation, and is processing around 20,000 returns daily. The government plans two more centers during this fiscal year, Mukherjee added.

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