Seeking a level playing field to do business in the country, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body of traders in the country, will organise nationwide protests on Friday in more than 150 places across the country demanding investigation into business modules of e-commerce platforms and their pricing mechanism and constitution of a regulatory authority to regulate and monitor e-commerce business in India.
The protest, organised in the backdrop of steep discounts offered by e-commerce platforms in the just-concluded ‘Diwali sale’, will take place in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Nagpur, Allahabad, among other places.
In Gujarat, protests will be staged in Vadodara, Rajkot, Valsad, Bharuch, Nadiad, Jamnagar, Gandhidham and Himmatnagar. The memorandum was submitted to Surat Collector on Thursday itself.
“We will stage a silent protest before submitting a memorandum, addressed to the Prime Minister and respective chief ministers of the state, through District Collectors seeking probe into the business modules of e-retailers and their pricing mechanism,” said, Mahendra Shah, national chairman, CAIT.
Referring to the recently-concluded festival season during which various e-commerce platforms offered sharp discounts in the name of “Big Offers” and “Diwali Sale”, Shah claimed that business of brick and mortar shops was down by at least 50 per cent because of the predatory pricing mechanism adopted by e-retailers.
Shah said close to 3,000 to 4,000 traders are expected to gather at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to demonstrate against unfair trade practices adopted by various e-commerce platforms and will urge the Centre to enact a law to regulate and monitor e-commerce business in India.
Earlier this month, Indian e-retailers like Flipkart, Snapdeal and American e-commerce giant Amazon had organised ‘sale’ offering bumper discounts to customers.
CAIT said the business module practiced by e-commerce platforms is unfair, unhealthy and against all business norms and jeopardises the livelihood of crores of people undertaking retail business in the country.
Brick and mortar stores, CAIT claimed, have to pay numerous taxes and undertake large-scale paper work, while e-retailers are registered in one state and making deliveries across the country, causing revenues losses to states, where they are not registered.
The memorandum seeks constitution of a Special Task Force of taxation experts to examine the compliance of taxation obligations of e-retailers and to study whether there is any tax avoidance.
CAIT also wants the Centre to set up a joint committee of senior officials and stakeholders to study the impact of online retail business on offline markets. Formation of a Retail Regulatory Authority to regulate and monitor the country’s domestic retail trade has also been sought by the traders’ body in addition to constituting a Board of Internal Trade for development of business avenues in domestic trade and its empowerment and to upgrade and modernise the existing retail trade.