• E-comm norms to provide level playing field, clarity: Nirmala

    Government today said e-commerce guidelines have brought in “greater clarity” about the sector and they will provide a level playing field to both online and offline stores.

    “I am very enthused and encouraged by various write-ups in newspapers that the clarification indeed has brought in greater clarity and also probably checked predatory pricing and discount giving exercises,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.

    She said the market is free and the government does not believe in interfering in it, adding “somewhere we have to ensure Indian players and Indian market situation does not get unnecessarily skewed to distort any free trade practices.”

    “The clarification, which we have issued has only resulted in bringing in level playing field (to) those in the brick and mortar bracket of the commerce. E-commerce has been encouraged but obviously it’s not going to restrict the consumer,” she said at the sidelines of a CII function.

    The statement assumes significance as some industry experts have raised concerns over certain conditions of the e-commerce guidelines like, players would not directly or indirectly influence prices of the products.

    While the government permitted 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in marketplace e-commerce retailing, the guidelines stated that such entities will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods and services and shall maintain level playing field.

    In view of the guidelines, e-retailers having foreign investments may now find it difficult to provide lucrative discounts to attract customers. Discounts can only be given by the owner of the goods or provider of services. 

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