Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman said the government has received many complaints about massive discount from Flipkart and is looking into the matter
After receiving "many complaints" from traders on Flipkart's massive discount sale, the Indian government on Wednesday said it will look into the concerns and take a call on whether more clarity is required on e-commerce retail business.
Flipkart's 'Big Billion Day' sale on Monday, that offered steep discounts on various products, has raised concerns among small and big traders that such campaigns would badly affect players in the traditional retail market.
"We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters.
When asked whether the government is considering any particular policy for e-commerce retailing, she said the matter would be looked into.
"Now there are many complaints. We will study the matter... Whether there is a need for a separate policy or some kind of clarification is needed, we will make it clear soon," Sitharaman, who is also the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, said.
In recent times, many e-commerce portals have been coming out with steep discount sales.
Flipkart has said that its 'Big Billion Day' sale saw 1.5 million people shopping at its portal. It also claimed that products worth over Rs600 crore were sold in just 10 hours under the scheme.
Earlier this week, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had demanded the Commerce and Industry Ministry take steps to monitor and regulate online businesses.
The CAIT has also sought a probe into the business model and trade practices of e-commerce companies to find out how they are offering huge discounts during the ongoing festive season.
To a query related to Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) announcement, Sitharaman said that it will come "soon". "The new policy would be different from the previous ones. It will focus on lot many things," she said.
FTP deals with matters related to exports and imports.
RBI has promoted three seniors as EDs and reshuffled existing ones to take over newly assigned responsibilities. Dr Deepali Pant Joshi has also been re-assigned to head the Department of Currency Management among other duties
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has promoted three of its senior officers as new executive directors (ED). It has also reshuffled some EDs' responsibilities. The three newly promoted EDs are Dr MD Patra, KK Vohra and G Mahalingam. “One promotion is in lieu of an existing vacancy and the other two are against additional vacancies,” RBI said in a release.
Dr Deepali Pant Joshi, who was previously heading the Consumer Education and Protection Department and spoke on the issue of consumer issues at the recently concluded MR Pai Awards, has now been shifted to handle the Department of Currency Management, Legal department, Premises Department and as the First Appellate Authority for Right to Information (RTI) Act matters.
The duties assigned to EDs according to the latest re-shuffle are as follows:
1. Financial Stability Unit
2. Inspection Department
3. Risk Monitoring Department
P Vijaya Bhaskar
1. Internal Debt Management Department
2. Department of External Investments and Operations
3. Department of Government and Bank Accounts
1. Department of Information Technology
2. Department of Payment and Settlement Systems
3. Foreign Exchange Department
4. Financial Markets Regulation Department (including Market Intelligence)
1. Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation
Dr (Smt) Deepali Pant Joshi
1. Department of Currency Management
2. Legal Department
3. Premises Department
4. Right to Information Act (First Appellate Authority)
1. Department of Banking Regulation
2. Department of Co-operative Banking Regulation
3. Department of Non-Banking Regulation
1. Consumer Education and Protection Department
2. Financial Inclusion and Development Department
3. Secretary’s Department
1. Department of Banking Supervision
2. Department of Co-operative Banking Supervision
3. Department of Non-Banking Supervision
While special paper for printing currency notes may be produced in India soon, how about introducing polymer currency notes, which are not easily counterfeited?
In 2010, the foundation stone was laid in Mysore by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd, (SPMCIL) to make special paper for printing currency notes indigenously. This is a joint venture between Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt Ltd, which is a unit of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) subsidiary, and SPMCIL. Why should this organisation be a "private limited" company? It is still not clear! Anyway, this facility is likely to become operational by the end of this year, once power supply is made available, and all other essential equipment is in place.
In the past, this speciality paper designed for printing currency notes was being imported from Japan and Australia. Full details of the quantity that will be made in this plant and whether this will be a total import substitution effort has not been made public.
However, it is most likely that even after the initial trials are successful and printed currency is "market tested", it would be months, may be even a couple of years more before we can think of import substitution. This will definitely reduce our imports to some extent, as the bill for this alone is estimated to be around Rs1,200 crore to Rs1,600 crore per year.
The question of counterfeit fake Indian currency notes in circulation has been a growing menace and a threat to our economy, adding to our woes in inflation. Also, from time to time, crores of fake notes, in higher denominations like Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes have been smuggled across the Indo-Pak border.
It is high time, India planned for a switch over to polymer currency notes, which has been successfully introduced in more than 25 countries. Australia, the pioneer, has been using this for almost 30 years now!
In fact, officials of the Reserve Bank of India, like the retired Deputy Governor, Dr KC Chakrabarty, have stated that trials were being conducted in selected towns like Bhubaneshwar, Kochi, Jaipur, Mysore and Shimla with smaller denomination like Rs10.
These press reports appeared as early as May 2013. There has been complete silence after this and fake currencies continue to be seized on a regular basis by vigilant security forces. Both the Finance Ministry and the RBI have not made any clear-cut statement on this issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about unearthing "black money" from overseas sources. But, what about the black money, running into crores, that is stashed inside the country itself, in the form of currency notes? Only a planned introduction of high denomination polymer currency notes and demonetizing the old notes would help to resolve this problem. Polymer currency notes are not easily counterfeited and next year, United Kingdom also plans to go in for the same! What are we waiting for?
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)