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New E-Commerce Policy In Progress: Government

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The newly appointed department for promotion of industry trade and internal trade (DPIIT) secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh said that the e-commerce policy for online retailers and the e-commerce rules to protect consumers are works in progress. He also added that the draft regulations would first be discussed in public before the government would take a final view.

“We are holding discussions to harmonise e-commerce policy and e-commerce rules under the consumer protection act…While doing so, we will try to ensure that whether a regulator or some other way…rules that will ensure that the customer is the king,” said Singh in a statement, adding work on the policy is at an advanced stage.

Elaborating on the idea of the open network of digital commerce (ONDC), Singh said the network is attempting to democratise access to e­commerce for scores of small and medium businesses, thereby creating a level-playing field. In addition, the government also has to strike a balance between interests of over 80 million ‘kirana’ stores and ‘online giants’ while framing such policies and rules.

Speaking about the government’s e-commerce venture on Thursday, DPIIT secretary reportedly said that ONDC will democratise the sector in the country. Earlier reports stated that on April 24, drawing parallel with the government’s fintech revolution through Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the commerce minister said, ONDC is also based on a similar concept of interoperable interface. Contrary to any popular e-commerce marketplace operating in India, which is a monolithic business entity, ONDC is designed to become a bouquet of independent platforms giving wider choices to the buyer and providing a bigger market to the seller.

Singh also urged all the e-commerce players to be part of the ONDC network, while replying to a question whether there is any plan to extend incentives like UPI to ONDC.

ONDC CEO T Koshy said that an online system is there for grievance redressal. So far, there are 46 network participants on the ONDC and the number is expected to at least double this year, Koshy said, adding there are 17 cities where 100 merchants are on-boarded the network and about 5-6 cities, where over 1,000 have joined. It is also reported that by the end of this year, over 75,000 merchants are likely to be on board.

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