The Narendra Modi led government may deliver a draft policy on retail traders over next week, a senior government official told The Indian Express. The policy will encompass both online and offline traders, bridging the gap between the two popular channels of sale who have been at loggerheads for several months now. “A national policy on retail trade, promised by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in its 2019 election manifesto, is expected to lay down an overarching framework for the sector to cover various segments such as physical retail, direct selling, hypermarkets and e-commerce,” the official told the national daily. The policy is expected to chalk out regulations, improving fund access and compliance costs and provide enabling the environment to the retail sector.
Also, in the stakeholder meetings, e-commerce players will be expected to support retail firms who also ant to foray in the online retail space, the official told the national daily. A separate e-commerce policy is also on the cards for online players and is expected to be ready by next year.
In its party manifesto, BJP had said that it will establish a National Traders’ Welfare Board and create a National Policy for Retail Trade for growth of retail businesses, keeping in mind the welfare of small traders. E-commerce players and traditional retailers have been in a fight for over 7 months now. The traditional retail players went onto accuse e-commerce companies for distorting level-playing field and predatory pricing backed by foreign funding. The government interjected in the dispute and said that the e-commerce players should follow the marketplace model instead of an inventory based model. The same was lauded by the Confederation of All India Traders. However, industry bodies — US India Chambers of Commerce (USAIC) and US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) — said that the same will adversely affect the Foreign Direct Investment in India. E-commerce players also pointed out that the current online sales are only 5% of the total retail sales in India.―Financial Express