New e-commerce policy to be good and sound, says DPIIT Secretary

By: |
October 5, 2019 4:05 AM

Speaking at the Indian Economic Summit, department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra said, "We are working on a new policy which is more comprehensive.... But I can assure that the policy that will be made, will be good and sound policy."

e-commerce policy, Wilbur Ross, DPIIT Secretary, DPIIT, FDI rules in e-commerce, Amazon IndiaThe draft policy sought to disallow sensitive data collected and processed locally but stored abroad from being shared with any third party even with the consent of the customer.

A day after US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross pitched for a balanced e-commerce policy by India, a top government official on Friday stressed the new e-commerce policy, which is being firmed up, will be ‘good and sound’.

Speaking at the Indian Economic Summit, department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra said, “We are working on a new policy which is more comprehensive…. But I can assure that the policy that will be made, will be good and sound policy.” He, however, acknowledged that there were issues such as data and a level-playing field for brick and mortar stores.

Mohapatra said over 50,000 start-ups have been registered with the DPIIT and the government expected the number to go up by another 50,000 by 2024. Over 300 start-ups have been approved by Sidbi for assistance under the government’s Rs 10,000-crore Funds of Fund, he said, adding that the government had been working towards making regulations even easier for start-ups.

“We want to create an ecosystem that every start-up in India feels proud to come up and we want to make it pan-India rather than being concentrated in metros,” he said. On data localisation, the secretary said different countries have different approach towards data issues and ‘when a government as a whole decides to do something, it has to engage with a large number of stakeholders and that is what is happening now’.

In February, the government had released a new draft e-commerce policy that provided for regulating cross-border data flows and setting up storage facilities locally. The draft policy sought to disallow sensitive data collected and processed locally but stored abroad from being shared with any third party even with the consent of the customer. Some stakeholders had asked the government to allow a company to share data at least with its group companies. This is because, in the absence of a clear-cut definition of the third party, it will mean an Amazon India won’t be able to share data with even Amazon for business development or better customer satisfaction.

As for FDI rules in e-commerce, India had issued a notification in December 2018, which barred online marketplaces with foreign investments from selling products of the companies where they held stakes or controlled inventory, and also banned exclusive marketing arrangements, among others.

The government, however, stated that the notification was only a reiteration of existing rules and it was forced to clarify as it had received complaints that the e-commerce players were giving discounts on products sold on their platforms, thus, violating the FDI rules.

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