After more than a year of discussions, the government now claims there is no definite timeline for introducing the draft national ecommerce policy.
Addressing the Lok Sabha, commerce minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday (March 18) said that a timeline has not been fixed as ecommerce is a new issue for many of the lawmakers. “Since ecommerce is a new issue, it has necessitated detailed consultations over the last few months to ensure that the policy is crafted in a manner that the interests of all stakeholders are taken into account. Therefore, no timeline has been fixed for the release of the same,” Goyal told Lok Sabha.
Goyal further added that draft national ecommerce policy seeks to create a facilitative regulatory environment for the growth of ecommerce sector. It is aimed at empowering domestic entrepreneurs and to encourage Make in India while safeguarding the interests of the consumers and facilitating job creation.
In early 2019, DPIIT had released the draft ecommerce policy, proposing data localisation and streamlining of the operations of ecommerce companies in line with FDA rules and regulations in the country. At that time, several ecommerce companies such as Flipkart and Amazon had raised concerns over the proposed regulatory guidelines by the department.
Discussions over the broad contours of the policy have been going on for more than a year now. The commerce ministry had earlier said that the final document would be out only after other technology policies are mandated as it was trying to avoid overlaps and contradictions.
The upcoming ecommerce policy will deal with counterfeits as the number of complaints have risen in recent years and will continue to be a revenue leakage for brands as ecommerce grows.
For this, the government would examine the policy in the US which proposes higher oversight of warehouses and ramped up fines and penalties for violations. In America, the strategy is to make ecommerce platforms liable for counterfeit goods.
The draft ecommerce policy had earlier proposed constituting a dedicated ‘data authority’. The authority would work towards issues related to the sharing of community data with startups and firms to serve the larger public interest.
Further, the ministry of consumer affairs has also been working on a policy for consumer protection rules in ecommerce. The policy is aimed to prevent fraud, unfair trade practices and protect the rights and interests of consumers.
India’s ecommerce industry is estimated at around $39 Bn in 2017 and is expected to grow to $200 Bn by 2026. The ecommerce policy is expected to find a balance between boosting the digital economy and safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders.