An inter-ministerial panel under DPIIT would be formed to address stakeholder grievances on FDI and draft e-commerce policy.
The government will come out with a national e-commerce policy within 12 months to facilitate achieving holistic growth of the sector, an official said. This was informed by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal in his second marathon meeting with stakeholders, including e-commerce companies, on Monday.
“We will put in place an institutional framework to bring out a national policy on e-commerce within next 12 months,” the official said.
The government in February released the draft national e-commerce policy proposing setting up a legal and technological framework for restrictions on cross-border data flow and also laid out conditions for businesses regarding collection or processing of sensitive data locally and storing it abroad.
Several foreign e-commerce firms have raised concerns over some points in the draft pertaining to data. An inter-ministerial panel under DPIIT would be formed to address stakeholder grievances on FDI and draft e-commerce policy. Goyal also said in the meeting that the Press Note 2, which talks about FDI in e-commerce, is clarificatory in nature and the government has not made any changes in the existing law.
“Companies who participated (in the meeting) agreed with this. They confirmed unequivocally that the Press Note 2 of 2018 on FDI in e-commerce was only clarificatory in nature and did not change the provisions in the FDI policy,” the official added.
The minister also stated that India wants to engage with the world on data and e-commerce issues “but there has to be reciprocity”, the official said. Top executives from Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm, eBay, Makemytrip, Swiggy and others attended the meeting.
The minister will meet again with retail and e-commerce firms to further address their issues.
The e-commerce firms shared sectoral concerns such as the ones related with goods and services tax and discounts. Flipkart Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy in a statement said the company appreciates the government’s efforts to “engage in a candid, positive and progressive discussions aimed at creating a vibrant e-commerce market and Digital India”. “We look forward to working with the ministry and many other stakeholders to realise this growth dream,” he added.
A Walmart spokesperson said the company welcomes the multiple consultative meetings that Goyal has hosted with business leaders.
The minister has shown an open mind to discuss various issues related to e-commerce so that there is meaningful progress to ensure that everyone benefits from the growing digital economy, promoting a positive investment environment for both international and domestic companies, the spokesperson added.
“E-commerce is an incredible opportunity for India to enable 70 million medium and small Indian businesses to become the bedrock of India’s digital economy. Snapdeal welcomes the government’s determination to ensure that the policies governing the sector are followed both in letter and spirit,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said. Meanwhile, the commerce and industry ministry in a statement said Goyal has directed Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) to immediately form a committee headed by the additional secretary of the department, with representatives of Department of Commerce, Ministries of MSME, Consumers Affairs and legal experts as members.
“The committee will hear grievances and provide necessary clarifications on issues related to FDI in e-Commerce,” it said.
The minister informed the stakeholders that the ministry is making all efforts to balance the interests of small businesses, retailers, kirana shop owners and e-commerce companies. He also said the final policy is work in progress and enough time will be given to all stakeholders to adapt to any changes that may be required. “More importantly, the changes will be prospective and nothing will be implemented with retrospective effect,” it added.