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'E-commerce guidelines to ensure level playing field'
Apr '16
While a clutch of e-commerce players are on tenterhooks after new guidelines on e-commerce, the government has said the norms would provide a level playing field to both online and offline stores.

"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," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters on the sidelines of a CII function in New Delhi.

She said the guidelines also probably checked predatory pricing and discount giving exercises.

While the Minister acknowledged that the market is free and the government does not believe in interfering in it, she insisted that "somewhere we have to ensure Indian players and Indian market situation does not get unnecessarily skewed to distort any free trade practices."

Sitharaman's comment is significant given that 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.

Following the guidelines, e-commerce players with 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. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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