While the top ecommerce companies in India are making rapid progress, the Indian government it yet to frame a policy framework to govern these enterprises. There have been sporadic issues raised from time to time but in the absence of a well laid down policy, there is always the doubt in the minds of the official dealing with issues arising from the industry.
After much deliberation, and nearly scrapping an e-commerce policy, the government has shifted the onus of handling this sector to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), from the Commerce Ministry since the major activity in this sector involves FDI, which is the domain of the DIPP. The Department will now get down to framing the policy and this could be an all new effort and not necessarily include the work done in the past in the matter, reports Economic Times. There were some efforts made but many suggestions did not find favour with some of the concerned ministries, particularly on the FDI rules. That is when this shift to the DIPP took place, last month.
It is learnt that the DIPP has identified 15 key issues relating to the sector and may float a discussion paper to invite comments from all stakeholders before moving further in the matter. These 15 issues may not include FDI, it is further learnt.
The idea would be to first simplify the current regulations governing the ecommerce sector which are making it difficult for investors. Some of the grey areas include consumer protection and competition. The CCI has been receiving complaints from the sellers on these ecommerce platforms on some of the policies followed by them in giving preferential treatment to certain sellers and the offline retail trade has charged these companies, mainly Flipkart and Amazon with giving predatory discounts. Though there is a restriction on inventory-based model, some players try and get around this by creating entities as B2B sellers and then retailing on the platforms.