As the country continues to be under a complete lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce platforms like Flipkart, Amazon are requesting the government to relax the sale of non-essential items online.
While other states are not permitting the e-commerce platforms to sell non-essential items, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has allowed home delivery of non-essential items in the State.
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E-commerce Giants Appealing to the Government to Allow Sale of Non-Essential Goods!
Since March 25 as the country went into lockdown, the citizens haven’t been able to purchase any goods that are classified as non-essential. The Centre had briefly issued an order to allow smartphone sales in the country after April 20, but that was later revised to ban all sales of non-essential goods till May 3.
The non-essential items includes items that may be required to get adjusted to the new norm of work from home like wifi routers, laptops, new smartphones in the event of sudden damage, kids supplies and stationery items, and products that help with coping with Indian summer such as fans, coolers, A.C.s among others.
Many small businesses rely on Amazon, Flipkart and other e-commerce platforms for selling their goods online, and relaxing the ban would lead to reviving their livelihoods.
Flipkart to meet the consumer demands and ease the burden of piled up inventory of MSMEs urges gradual opening up of delivery of non-essential items. Amazon and Flipkart said that the phased relaxation in e-commerce sales will help ease consumer troubles while social distancing
Flipkart Group spokesperson says, “E-commerce can help meet these requirements in a safe and secure way while ensuring social distancing and allowing the Government in continuing their efforts to contain this situation. E-commerce can also support in easing the burden of piled up inventory of MSMEs and help in the delivery of these products to consumers in a safe and secure way while following the robust safety SOPs.”
Amazon and Flipkart assure that they will ensure the safe and secure product delivery process. Both the companies claim to have trained delivery agents regarding all important safety measures while delivering these goods.
An Amazon India spokesperson said in a statement toGadgets 360, “E-commerce offers the safest way for sellers/retailers to serve the needs of citizens while ensuring social distancing. We are committed to keep citizens safe and urge the government to enable e-commerce to play its role in the joint fight against the pandemic by allowing the supply of all goods that people need over a prolonged period. We as a company are committed to serve more than 100m Indians from the safety of their homes, reduce the number of people who need to step out, while at the same time help hundreds of thousands of small businesses jumpstart their livelihoods in these difficult times.”
Currently, Amazon and Flipkart are selling only essential goods like groceries, medical supplies, baby essentials and animal essential products.
Mamata Permits the Home Delivery of Non-Essential Items in West Bengal!
Announcing her decision on April 27 at a press conference, CM Mamata Banerjee said, “By and large the people of the State have so far not faced any problems in getting essential commodities. There are many non-essential goods that people need, but have not been able to get for the last one month. From today onwards we are allowing home delivery of non-essential goods as well. One can get whatever one needs by ordering on the phone, buying online, or using whatever mechanisms one uses.”
She also said such a method of business will continue in the State until further clarity on the matter comes up from the Centre.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted a meeting with Chief Ministers earlier on April 27. Following which Mamta felt that the Centre’s directives on the issue of the nationwide lockdown lacked clarity. She said, “On the one hand we are told that we must be very strict in enforcing the lockdown and on the other hand all shops will be allowed to be open… If we open all the shops, we cannot tell the people to not go shopping. If people start going out shopping, then there will be crowding on the streets, and if that happens then the lockdown will be futile. So, what do we do? …You cannot have a lockdown, and at the same time, have all the shops open.”
In the point of view, she has asked the State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha to get a clarification from the Cabinet Secretary.
Furthermore, Mamata has urged the Centre to deposit atleast Rs.10,000 in the bank accounts of employees in the unorganised sector to provide them with some relief in the lockdown period. She said, “What will the poor people eat? You have to contain the spread of COVID-19, but people also have to eat. Just by creating a fear about the disease… and shutting the voices of people you can only cause psychological problems.”
Mamata also announced the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on COVID Management to be headed by Finance Minister Amit Mitra. The following are the other members of the committee: Minister of School Education and Parliamentary Affairs Partha Chatterjee, Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs and the Mayor of Kolkata Firhad Hakim, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare and Housing Chandrima Bhattacharya, the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary, along with a coordinator who will liaise with the different departments.
Mamata said, “I also have a lot of other things to look into…. Just taking care of COVID is not enough. Soon there will be dengue, malaria…. If we concentrate only on one thing, the other areas will suffer. For that reason, I have set up a Cabinet Committee on COVID Management.”
As of April 28, the confirmed cases in the State are 649 with 20 deaths from COVID-19 virus.
Only the future will tell whether this move to sell non-essential items will prove foolish or smart!