NEW DELHI: Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that the government was considering clarifications to ensure that ecommerce players work within the regulatory boundaries and do not influence consumer choice.
“There is no change in the e-commerce policy per se. It is very robust, well designed and operating in several sectors in India. However, there are certain complaints from consumers and from small retailers about certain practices of the e-commerce companies, which are under investigation. We have sought certain information, they are being looked into. We are also considering certain clarifications to ensure that the e-Commerce sector works in the true spirit of the law, of the rules that have been laid down,” the minister said.
The comments come amid speculation that the government may tweak regulations further. “E-commerce is supposed to provide an agnostic platform so that buyers and sellers can trade with each other. The platform should not become a part of the trading transaction. It should neither be funding it. It should neither be having algorithms which give preference to one or the other. It should not be promoting its own products, but provide all data required for a rational choice and the choice should be the free choice of the consumer… Those who break the law will certainly have to respond to our concerns and correct their business practices at the earliest,” he said.
Recently, the ministry ordered a fresh probe by the Reserve Bank of India and the enforcement directorate against Amazon and Flipkart regarding allegations of violation of foreign direct investment norms.
Separately, Goyal also pointed to recent data to argue that exports were improving and a decline in the number of coronavirus cases in several developed countries in Europe as well as in the US will help push shipments from the country. Besides, he said, the steps announced in the Budget as well as the production linked incentive scheme will boost investment and help revive economic activity.
Asked about the extent of public procurement of foodgrains that was possible under WTO rules, the minister said that India was well below the prescribed cap, which in any case would not pose a challenge due to a “peace clause” or absence of litigation in case it was breached for food security reasons.