The Indian IT industry has expressed outrage over the latest US law to increase the visa fee on its skilled workers to share the healthcare burden of 9/11 victims.
"It's a retrograde step targeting the Indian IT industry again to meet the healthcare costs in the US," Infosys Technologies chief executive S. Gopalakrishnan said. "It is a disappointing move."
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, passed by the US Congress late on Wednesday, aims to raise $4.3 billion over the next five years by taxing goods and services sourced from countries like India, China and Thailand.
"The move is inconsistent with the statements exchanged during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India," Wipro executive vice-president Suresh Senapathy said.
The visa fee on Indian techies was hiked earlier in August to fund border security. The new healthcare law seeks to meet the treatment costs for people who fell ill while clearing the World Trade Centre debris at Ground Zero in New York.
"As long as unemployment is high, there will be pressure on politicians and government to do something. Unfortunately, their focus is on immigrants," Gopalakrishnan said.
"The consolation is the new Act will be applicable for five years (till 2015) as against the 10-year timeframe stipulated in the bill," Senapathy said.
Nasscom president Som Mittal said the industry body had not expected the bill to be enacted into law so quickly.
"Though the bill was in the knowledge of our government and the industry, we thought it may not go through in such a hurry, as the US Congress session was to break for Christmas and the year-end holiday season," Mittal said.