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Govt studying e-comm players’ views on proposed rules, policy

The Consumer Affairs Ministry has taken inputs from stakeholders, including foreign e-commerce players such as Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, on the proposed e-commerce rules that may not be favourable for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and may need some careful consideration, a source has said.

“A lot of discussion has happened between officials in the Consumer Affairs Ministry and e-commerce stakeholders including companies such as Amazon and Flipkart. The companies articulated their apprehensions relating to the consumer protection (e-commerce) rules.

“All inputs have been put together and submitted to Commerce & Industry and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal,” the source said. The discussions taking place at the Consumer Affairs Ministry on e-commerce rules and the work on the new e-commerce policy being carried out at the Commerce & Industry Ministry will finally be dove-tailed to arrive at one policy, the source said.

The Consumer Affaris Ministry came up with the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, in July 2020 and then floated a revised draft in June 2021, intending to tighten vigilance on e-commerce companies.

‘Pinning responsibility’
Some of the provisions in the draft included prohibition of deep discounts and flash sales on e-commerce sites and making e-commerce marketplaces take responsibility for goods sold. Major e-commerce players had protested strongly against the proposed restrictions on discounts.

“The government has to examine what the valid concerns of e-commerce companies are. At the same time, the on-going investigations and allegations against large players flouting FDI rules also have to be kept it mind,” the source said.

Traders’ body, CAIT recently sent a communication to Goyal stating that the government should not allow any dilution in e-commerce rules under CPA or the e-commerce policy. “We are of the considered opinion that provisions prohibiting deep discounts and flash sales, making e-commerce marketplaces responsible for the quality of goods sold on their platforms….stoppage of market-distorting discount offers…should be integral and non compromising points of the trading community which duly validate the principle of natural justice and e-commerce freedom in India,” the letter said. The Hindu BusinessLine

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