Is Maharashtra Govt. Considering A Ban On Ecommerce Portals?
Indian Ecommerce industry’s existence has just received another threat; and this time it has come directly from Maharashtra Government.
Last week, leaders of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), which is an Economic policy front under RSS, had met Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, and sought a ban on eCommerce portals as they are killing domestic businesses. They had issues with FDI laws as well, and had said, “So we have asked the Finance Minister to ban them by law and plug the loopholes. He has to respond to our demands in his budget,”
We didn’t take this request seriously, until, an endorsement came from none other than Finance Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Sundir Mungantiwar, when he said yesterday, “It is not because the Swadeshi Jagran Manch has made the demand. Even if congress had made this demand we would have looked into it. However, as a state government, we have asked our officials to look into how we can bring these sites into the ambit of taxation,”
On one hand Maharashtra Govt. understands the importance of technology, and is planning to create their own WhatsApp like messenger for internal use, and on the other hand, they are trying to crush the development and growth of the same technology by banning them.
At a time when PM Modi has left no stone unturned to make Digital India dream a possibility, this statement certainly triggers doubts and apprehensions regarding the whole idea itself.
Tax evasions are something which Indian ecommerce portals are being accused of in the past as well, and heavy fines have been imposed for their errors. But considering that the digital business is relatively new in India, there are no proper laws which govern the transactions happening on the Internet, without a middle man involved. Site like Flipkart and Amazon have already been heavily fined for such lapses, and they are learning fast to comply with Government rules.
Last year, Karnataka Government intervened and asked tax officials to go easy on Amazon sellers, after they were ‘banned’ due to tax related issues.
And then there are cultural and social issues as well, which ecommerce is battling; for instance Telangana is considering ban on selling sexual wellness products in the state, as they can endanger women’s safety.
At a time when foreign investors have openly embraced India’s economic plans and decisions, and FDI is coming in at an unprecedented levels, such statements supporting ban on a new way of doing business is certainly unexpected.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that India will become World’s fastest growing economy in 2 years, overtaking China. But banning and stopping business growth on the pretext of nationalism will take us nowhere.