Retail policy put on fast track
The government plans to come out with a draft national retail policy in the next 10 days amid strong opposition among small traders over the rapid expansion of online retail, led by multinationals, even as they grapple with the computerisation of their operations.
The commerce ministry has also formed a committee to address the concerns of stakeholders on the draft e-commerce policy and would come out with a final policy within a year.
Ramesh Abhishek, secretary of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, of the commerce ministry, met with the representatives of both the traditional formats as well as the modern formats of the retail trade to assess the concerns of the stakeholders.
“The draft would be released in the next 10 days to seek comments from the trader community for formulating the final policy. We expect the final policy to be released by the first week of September,” the secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Praveen Khandelwal said. The retail trade is worth $650 billion in the country.
Khandelwal said the policy should include the upgradation and modernisation of the existing format of retail trade.
The government has almost moved to an e-system, but only 35 per cent of the 7 crore traders have computerised their businesses.
Government support is needed to link the rest of 65 per cent traders with the computer system. CAIT has proposed a 50 per cent government subsidy to the traders.
Khandelwal said the proposed policy should promote fair and honest trade and address the concerns of the traders both at the central and state levels. It has sought low rate of interest, short- to mid-term lending and a mechanism to review laws, acts, rules and regulations governing trade.
Besides, the draft retail policy should address the issue of physical infrastructure in traditional and local neighbourhood markets.
The Federation of All India Vyapar Mandal general secretary V.K. Bansal, who was also present at the meeting, raised the issue of the protection of retail traders and sought a well-defined space for each segment of retail including traditional, online, hyper market, direct sellers and hawkers.
The meeting was also attended by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Laghu Udyog Bharti, Retailers Associations of India, the CII, Ficci, Assocham and the PHD Chamber of commerce.
The commerce and industry ministry has formed a committee, headed by the additional secretary of the department, with the representatives of Department of Commerce, the ministries of MSME and consumers affairs, and legal experts as members, to hear grievances and provide necessary clarifications on issues related to FDI in e-commerce.
The move comes after commerce minister Piyush Goyal held a meeting with stakeholders, including e-commerce companies, on Monday evening.
“We will put in place an institutional framework to bring out a national policy on e-commerce within next 12 months,” officials said.
The government in February released the draft of a national e-commerce policy that proposed restrictions on cross-border data flow and laid out conditions regarding the collection or processing of sensitive data locally and storing it abroad. Several foreign e-commerce companies have raised their concerns over some points in the draft pertaining to data.