E-commerce policy should focus on encouraging investments not discounts: NITI Aayog CEO

Niti Aayog
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The govt should focus on attracting more investments and creating jobs instead of halting its momentum through new e-commerce policy, said Niti Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant.

We should have a policy framework which will encourage investments in the e-commerce sector and the government should not get into the market by looking at micro issues of discounts and pricing, said Amitabh Kant in an interview to ET.

He further suggested that FDI investment should be encouraged. The new policy should not discourage international capital flows through electronic means and cross-border e-commerce which helps Indian firms access a larger pool of global consumers.

India needs a progressive and forward-looking e-commerce policy which will promote startups, investment and growth, and create new jobs, Kant added.

Talking about a need for an agency to look after the segment, he said the govt should also protect the consumer and ensure cost-saving deals.

The earlier version of the draft e-commerce policy proposed no discounts to be offered by e-commerce firms and to store consumer data in India. The firms will be given two years to comply. An independent regulator will address compliance with FDI caps in e-commerce. The draft was criticised by multiple stakeholders.

Kant views on new draft policy come at a time when CCI is mulling to denounce the discount practise by e-tailers. This month, online retailers Amazon, Flipkart and Paytm came out with various pre-independence day deals offering discounts and cashbacks.

In early this month, CCI had sought views of the DIPP on discounts being offered by e-commerce marketplace platforms. As per the current FDI policy, domestic e-commerce marketplace platforms having FDI can not directly or indirectly influence the prices.

Five years ago, the ED had investigated many e-commerce firms, including Flipkart, Snapdeal and Myntra, for possible violations of FDI laws. However, no actions were taken against online retailers. In 2015, CCI had rejected allegations of unfair business practices against five online retail majors – Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Jabong, and Myntra.

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