In my first assignment, I had encountered a very unusual problem.The problem was of having wrong PAN numbers of employees in our database. Employers in India are required to deduct some amount of taxes from their employees and deposit it to income tax authorities. Once the income tax amount is deducted by the employer and deposited to income tax authority,the amount gets reflected in 26 AS form of the employee with a particular PAN number. Hence, it is very important to ensure that PAN number of the employee in Employer’s database is correct. If it is not correct, the tax will get deducted and get uploaded against wrong PAN number. The employee will be the biggest loser in this case as he has paid his tax but yet he is not able to see it as a ‘paid tax’ in 26 AS form on income tax portal.
The above situation can have two likely response categories- a damage control response and a pro-active response. The ‘damage-control’ type of response is to wait for employee to get a notice from tax authority and he will come rushing to employer expressing his anguish. The employer will then demand his correct PAN number and update it. The pro-active strategy is its complete opposite. Rather than waiting for employees to come one by one , it is better to sanitize the record by making the existing ‘technology systems’ talk to each other. Income tax authorities provide us with a report which enlists the PAN numbers which are either wrong or incomplete. Since, the same PAN numbers are present in the payroll system used by the employer, it is easy to take out salary account details of those employees.The next step involves to find a database which records salary account details and corresponding PAN numbers.
Thankfully, financial institutions are very accurate with their database and they are the ones who maintain salary account details and PAN numbers. Hence, banks become our ally in sanitizing our records.We requested the PAN details from banks and reconciled them with our database. The whole activity was finished in one month without troubling our employees. The above incident shows the power of talkative technology systems in governance. Today, state governments are struggling to find out the real beneficiaries for direct benefit transfers in the lockdown period only because all the technology systems are existing in isolation. Despite humongous databases like Jan dhan yojna, aadhar card ,banking database etc, we are still not able to do financial profiling of our citizens.
The next level of governance reforms can come only when these huge databases are connected together to form a ‘Golden database’. The ‘Golden database’ is a popular phenomenon with financial technology firms and it is the backbone of the qualitative and quantitative inputs a management receives about its operational and financial activity. How great it would have been if on the day of declaring lock down , Prime Minister had announced that money has already been transferred into the accounts of required beneficiaries. It is possible and can be done. We just need to believe that we can make our systems intelligent and capable enough to do that. Hopefully, we will embark on the journey of interlinking of our technology systems and create an accurate financial profile of our citizens so as to clearly help the down trodden when they need the government the most.