E-sellers’ representative body All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) has urged the government to set up a regulatory body to monitor various e-commerce marketplaces and their policies towards merchants on these platforms. AIOVA has reiterated its demand in the wake of the about $16 billion deal that saw US retail giant Walmart picking up close to 77 per cent stake in Indian e-commerce major Flipkart.
Traders’ bodies, including the likes of Confederation of All India Traders and RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch, have opposed the deal and alleged that this could further hurt sellers’ business. “AIOVA has been demanding a regulatory body to monitor the trade of e-commerce marketplaces and their policies towards sellers. We had made this demand in the e-commerce committee formed under NITI Aayog in the year 2016 where we were assured they will immediately start working on it,” the association said in a statement.
It claimed that no substantial progress has been made on its suggestions even after two years. AIOVA said it has not been kept in the loop on the discussions initiated by the think tank on e-commerce formed under the commerce ministry. “The working of the think tank is questionable as it has kept sellers and our association out of the discussion nor are they including our demands as part of their agenda. Our dissent was duly expressed to them,” AIOVA said.
AIOVA claims to represent over 3,500 sellers present on e-commerce marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. The body also questioned the role of the commerce ministry and DIPP officials, “who have not opened up or directed any investigations in our specific complaints regarding violation of DIPP Press Note 3/2016”.
The commerce and industry ministry notifies FDI policies through press notes. Press Note 3, which was released in 2016, enlists guidelines for foreign direct investment in e-commerce sector. It also articulated that no discounting is allowed and that no inventory ownership directly or indirectly is allowed by e-commerce marketplaces.
“Sadly, government of India as a whole has not opened any investigations in the open and blatant violation of FDI policy of the country by certain pseudo marketplaces,” it said, claiming that this amounted to injustice for thousands of e-sellers that it represents.