Traders across the country will go on protest on January 15, the day that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is slated to visit India. Bezos has also reportedly sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This protest comes as part of a two-month long agitation by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) against e-commerce majors Flipkart and Amazon. The January 15 protest will be organised by CAIT along with the All India Mobile Retailers Association, All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation and reportedly, over 5,000 trade bodies.
After reports that Bezos has sought an audience with PM Modi, CAIT said that it has asked to see the PM before that, to apprise him of their views.
CAIT has alleged that the two e-commerce platforms have designed their business models on predatory pricing and deep discounting, which was leading to loss of tax revenues for the government. CAIT said that the companies were charging GST on the “artificially lowered” price. “...as per GST law, they cannot undervalue the price of any commodity and are under a statutory obligation to charge GST on actual market value,” it earlier stated.
According to CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal, Bezos’s visit to India “is to build a wrong and false narrative that Amazon is empowering small traders with tremendous growth in their respective business through its e-commerce portal. It’s a white lie having no legs to stand.”
CAIT demanded that Amazon make public what they have done so far to empower traders on the platform, the quantum of business annually in the last five years, and if any one of these traders were listed as top 20 sellers in the last 5 years. “If they could not empower existing retailers on their portal, why they are looking for more retailers. Amazon is trying to create a false propaganda that it is the true friend of traders though it is the worst enemy,” CAIT said in a release.
Furthermore, the body called e-commerce majors “habitual offenders of policy and law” and said that they were “economic terrorists” who want to destroy e-commerce and the retail trade ecosystem of India.
CAIT began its protest against e-commerce companies on November 23, 2019, which went on till January 10. The protest was announced on the allegation that the two companies are circumventing the law and were in violation of Press Note 2 of the FDI policy.
Earlier during a protest, Praveen Khandelwal told TNM that traders want the government to ensure e-commerce companies comply with the FDI policy. Other major demands were the immediate roll-out of a national e-commerce as well as retail policy, and a regulator or ombudsman to regulate e-commerce business.