Government Sets Up Task Force To Finalise E-Commerce Policy

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The task force will come out with a set of recommendations, which would be brought before the think tank in five months. The Indian government has decided to set up a task force to finalise a policy on the e-commerce sector in the country. The decision to set up a task force was taken at the first meeting of the think tank on framework for National Policy on E-Commerce that was constituted under the chairmanship of Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu.

Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said, "The objective is to come out with a framework for an e-commerce policy. The task force will come out with a set of recommendations which would be brought before the think tank in five months. The think tank will give its report in six months."

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The task force and its various sub-groups would deliberate on all the concerned issues in detail, she said. She also said that all issues related to e-commerce including taxation, infrastructure, investments, technology transfer, data protection, regulations and competition were discussed at the meeting.

Representatives of industry bodies, e-commerce companies, telecommunication and IT firms, the Reserve Bank of India RBI and independent experts took part in the meeting.

The Commerce Minister said the country has seen an exponential growth of the e-commerce sector and the domestic industry will continue to grow. "We must try to promote it…and for that there is a need for a policy," Prabhu said. "E-commerce firms can play a greater global role," he added.

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According to officials here, issues discussed at the meeting included aspects of e-commerce, digital economy, physical and digital infrastructure, a regulatory framework, taxation policy, data flows, server localisation, intellectual property rights protection, trade related aspects and foreign investment in the sector. Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders hit out at the Ministry of Commerce for not inviting representatives of trade to the meeting.

"We are regularly making complaints against malpractices of e commerce companies but government chooses to avoid traders. Ecommerce companies are free to flout the FDI policy even after many complaints and the government has done nothing.

It is more regretted that government has no time to evaluate and streamline the domestic trade but has sufficient time and concern for ecommerce and FDI in retail," Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of CAIT said.        

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