Consumer VOICE writes to DPIIT, recomending e-commerce policy framework

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on March 30, 2021

Consumer VOICE, a consumer empowerment group, has written a letter to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and has “strongly recommended” a consistent and a comprehensive e-Commerce policy framework in consonance with Consumer rights enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act.

This comes even as the DPIIT is conducting a series of meetings with the industry players and associations to make possible tweaks to FDI in eCommerce. To understand these challenges, Consumer VOICE did studies.

“In wider consumer interest the regulation needs to be stable, not changed frequently so that consumers are aware to take full advantage of the policy initiative, and not confused,” Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary, Consumer VOICE said in a letter addressed to DPIIT. A copy of the letter was reviewed by BusinessLine.

He explained that during the covid-19 pandemic, Indian consumers realised the importance of eCommerce. “Indeed, we have seen an uptick in consumer preference for e-commerce, as more people now feel comfortable shopping online compared to before the advent of the virus. These e-commerce entities instituted various safety and hygiene measures in their supply chain to ensure safe delivery of packages.”

This, according to Sanyal, is a welcome development from the perspective of Indian consumers, and should indeed be encouraged.

The Group said that it was vital that e-commerce players were given the space to conduct their operations efficiently and serve the consumers. “Any policy measures that increase compliance burden on these entities or created a sense of uncertainty and increase costs to consumers is likely going to impact consumer welfare, forcing consumers to forgo the convenience that e-commerce brings.”

Industry players have been divided on whether India needed policy reforms or not. Reliance and Paytm has requested for a stringent policy, whereas, players like Amazon and Flipkart said they were not keen on the tweaks in the policy.

Sanyal further said that Enforcement Agencies were mandated to take actions against any discrepancies by the e Commerce players, thus, dealing with such issues through a policy route is best avoided.

“Any e-commerce player violating the laws should be taken to task by the designated enforcement agencies who are mandated to take action. Consumers should be clearly informed of the roles and responsibilities of these agencies.”

Published on March 30, 2021

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