Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka meets Arun Jaitley


New Delhi: Infosys’ chief executive officer (CEO) Vishal Sikka on Monday met finance minister Arun Jaitley amid industry-wide concerns around tighter visa norms in key markets like the US and layoffs in the sector.

The 45-minute meeting, between Jaitley and Sikka accompanied by other top company officials, also assumes significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the US later this month.

Over the past few months, Indian information technology (IT) companies are confronted with closer scrutiny and tighter visa norms in the US, a market that accounts for nearly 60% of India’s IT exports.

According to the people familiar with the development, Infosys had sought the meeting. However, Sikka declined to comment on the proceedings after the meeting. The company’s chief operating officer (COO) U.B. Pravin Rao was also present at the meeting.

Asked about concerns around layoffs in the sector, Sikka said the company has announced 10,000 jobs in the US and continues to hire in India as well. “We have announced 10,000 jobs in the US and we are continuing to hire lots of jobs in India. I think that the future is all about innovation,” he said. He added that Indian IT companies are creating “tremendous amount of value” in the US.

With rising protectionism across markets like Singapore and Australia, companies are beginning to adjust their business models to reduce their dependence on visas and hiring more locals instead. The ramp-up in local hiring is also aimed at placating the Donald Trump administration in the US that has been critical of outsourcing firms.

The US had accused Infosys and its peers Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Cognizant of unfairly cornering the lion’s share of US H-1B work visas, taking jobs away from American workers. The tightening of visa norms not only pushes up operational costs for these technology firms, but also makes movement of skilled workforce difficult.

Infosys has already announced that it would hire 10,000 Americans over the next two years and set up four innovation hubs in the US. However, it wasn’t clear if the discussions included goods and services tax-Network (GSTN) at the meeting. Infosys had received the contract for GSTN, which is responsible for providing the technology backbone for the new indirect tax regime and connecting the databases of states and the centre.