CAIT seeks empowered Regulatory Authority to monitor & regulate e-commerce

New Delhi, March 30: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has demanded an empowered Regulatory Authority to monitor and regulate the e-commerce trade in the country.

The CAIT has strongly pitched for six basic fundamentals needed for e-commerce policy and the rules under the Consumer Protection Act.

In a communication sent to Union Commerce & Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, the CAIT said six fundamentals are necessary for a robust growth of e-commerce which include transparent operations of e-commerce platforms; easy accessibility and adequate grievance redressal by e-commerce entities; non- discriminatory access of marketplace platforms to all stakeholders of the value-chain; avoidance of conflict of interest between marketplace platforms; sellers and various service providers on the platform and formation of an empowered Regulatory Authority to monitor and regulate the e-commerce trade in India.

CAIT President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that mandatory registration of e-commerce entities conducting business through any e-mode will lay the substantial foundation of a well defined eco-system and the extent of e-commerce landscape can easily be gauged with the registration process and shall protect consumers from rogue/fraudulent e-commerce companies. Transparency should be the hallmark of any business activity and every e-commerce marketplace must therefore act in a transparent manner with respect to all stakeholders, namely — the customer, sellers, logistics partners and payment gateways.

They said that it must be ensured that consumers can reach out to senior grievance redressal officers of the marketplace entities to resolve their concerns and therefore provision of Grievance Officer, Nodal Officer & Compliance Officer is laudable.

The CAIT further opined that it is extremely important for an e-commerce marketplace platform to act as a neutral platform for third party sellers where every such seller has a non-discriminatory access in the context of Logistics service provider, payment gateway system and each seller must have a non-discriminatory access to every customer and every customer must have such access to every seller on the platform.

The traders’ body suggested that to avoid any conflict of interest, the e-commerce marketplace or its related entities should not act as a seller on such marketplace platforms.

“At present many E-commerce Marketplace entities are creating economic disruption by surreptitiously carrying on inventory e-commerce activities on their marketplace platform. The E-commerce Marketplace entities themselves become sellers on the platform by misusing loopholes and are virtually carrying out Multi Brand Retail Trade (MBRT) and also they are even selling goods below the cost to capture market share thereby creating enormous financial strain on small retailers who have no option but to shut shop,” it said.

The trade leaders said that the e-commerce policy and the rules will put an end to the subsidies being extended to controlled sellers by offering huge discounts to them in a differentiated manner. Similarly, the use of affiliated payment service providers to lure consumers and influence them to buy from these controlled trading companies, by giving discounts on payment service charges, would come to an end.