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New Jersey decides to move call
centre from Mumbai to Camden
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York |
April 23, 2003 09:20 IST
In the wake of a media outcry over outsourcing of government contracts to India, a New Jersey government department has renegotiated its contract with a private company to move its customer call centre from Mumbai to Camden in New Jersey.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) had entered into a contract with eFunds Corporation of Scottsdale, Arizona that resulted in the shifting of its operation of handling calls by the state's recipients of welfare and food stamps to Mumbai, in February last year.
The decision had drawn flak from the media as well as some politicians.
Early this year, state senator Shirley Turner, a Democrat, proposed a bill, which was passed unanimously, banning outsourcing of government contracts overseas.
Turner told rediff.com that she proposed the bill because she believed it was unfair to allow taxpayers' dollars to be used for exporting jobs, especially when state's low-skilled residents were unemployed.
DHS Commissioner Gwendolyn Harris, who too criticized the shifting of eFunds' operations to India, announced earlier in April during the budget hearings that the department had renegotiated the contract to ensure the call centre would move back to New Jersey.
"Right after the controversy broke out, Commissioner Harris asked the department to renegotiate with eFunds to ensure that the call centre can be moved from India to New Jersey and we have been successful in doing that," Andy Williams of the DHS told rediff.com.
He said that the new call centre in Camden would hopefully become functional from May 1 this year.
However, the department would have to pay eFunds $73,800 a month over and above the current monthly payment of $340,000, Williams said.
The centre at Camden would be run probably by a dozen odd workers who are expected to earn anywhere between 10 and 12 dollars an hour instead of the $2-3 an hour that was reportedly paid to workers in Mumbai.
Williams, however, denied that the move followed the passage of the bill in the senate.
Although the senate has passed the bill, it is yet to be approved by the lower house. It can become a law only after both houses of the legislature pass it and it receives the assent of the state governor.
A number of experts and politicians have questioned the desirability of passing such a bill at a time when an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies are resorting to outsourcing from countries like India, which leads to a win-win situation for both countries.US Congressman Joseph Crowley (a Democrat from New York) and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans said during his visit last week to India that the New Jersey bill was an unhealthy legislation and would not find favor in other states.