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No plan yet to have e-commerce regulator, minister tells Parliament

Several trader bodies have called for a policy with India’s e-commerce market is poised to rise to $111.4 billion by 2025 from $46.2 billion in 2020

August 03, 2022 / 01:28 PM IST
Representatative image

Representatative image

The government has no plans yet to set up an independent regulator for e-commerce platforms, minister of state for commerce and industry Som Prakash told Parliament on August 3.

The statement comes at a time when trader bodies have accused foreign players of violating investment laws as well as resorting to anti-competition practices, calling for tighter monitoring of the e-commerce sector that has boomed in recent years.

“At present, there is no proposal under consideration for constituting an independent regulator for e-commerce platforms,” Prakash said in response to a question in the Lok Sabha.

The e-commerce sector was governed by a comprehensive legal and policy framework, the minister said as he listed Consumer Protection Act, 2019; Competition Act, 2002; Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, 2017 among the laws governing the sector.

Three-and-a-half years after it was announced, the e-commerce policy is yet to take shape as discussions continue.

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As reported by Moneycontrol, officials say the work on the policy has crawled as many other issues are now part of other legislations as differences between ministries persist.

The last time a draft of the policy went public was in February 2019, when it faced the heat from companies and civil society alike.

While Indian businesses argued that the interests of domestic businesses had not been protected enough, consumer groups said it was heavily tilted in favour of some players.

The parliamentary standing committee on commerce has taken a tough stance on large e-commerce platforms, saying India should identify "gatekeeper" platforms of a certain size that need tougher regulation.

The committee is of the opinion that it is time India revamped and strengthened its ex-ante regulatory framework and took steps to identify entities that act as gatekeeper platforms.

It has recommended that the Competition Act, 2002, be amended to prescribe additional quantitative criteria such as the number of registered or active consumers and sellers on the platform, number of transactions taking place and volume of revenue generated to identify entities that act as a gatekeeper platform.

In April, the Competition Commission of India searched the premises of top Amazon sellers over alleged violation of competition laws, Reuters reported.

The e-commerce policy is expected to significantly impact India’s e-commerce market, which is poised to rise to $111.4 billion by 2025 from $46.2 billion in 2020, on the back of wider internet availability and smartphone ownership, according to India Brand Equity Foundation, a trust established by the department of commerce.
Deepsekhar Choudhury Deepsekhar covers tech and startups at Moneycontrol. Tweets at @deepsekharc
Tags: #Ecommerce
first published: Aug 3, 2022 01:28 pm
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