Kathmandu. The latest draft of the e-commerce policy was made public on Tuesday, December 29. It was a rewrite of the old draft, with many additions leftover from the previous ones. The word ‘intermediary’ is mentioned for the first time in the last draft.
At the same time, the e-commerce policy has identified intermediaries as a completely separate business model. This is a new beginning for the intermediate industry, bringing service providers to the same platform and providing services to consumers under one umbrella. In fact, the e-commerce industry as a whole is a big intermediate.
There are many dilemmas in the field of e-commerce, starting with where to register. Sadly, this is still not clear. However, the new policy clearly states that all e-commerce companies must register with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Supplies.
It also guarantees a level of security to consumers. Because they only use the services of companies registered with the designated bodies of the government and with the new laws and policies, these companies are also accountable to the service recipients. Simply put, the potential for fraud has skyrocketed.
The law also stipulates that the local district administration office will look into complaints from consumers regarding e-commerce company fraud. It has reduced fraud in the name of online shopping and facilitated the process of seeking legal redressal without filing a case with a court or police.
If there was a consumer court, it would be easier to address such cases, which were promised to be established within six months of the national emergency strategy being made public.
But over the years, it has not disappeared. However, under the recently drafted policy, any consumer can lodge a complaint within three days of finding out that he/she has been cheated and get treatment as per the law.
The biggest achievement of this policy is the recognition of e-commerce as an industry. It will increase judicial competition and strictly regulate fraud cases. The draft also mentions the need to register as an e-commerce company.
- Website SSL
- The price of the whole item should be visible on the website.
- Company details and contact number
- The transparent grievance management process
There are also some requirements, which are not practical. For example, you need to put the manufacturing date of the product on the website. This is possible only if you can have different SKUs (identifiers that can identify all objects separately).
Even so, it is not user-friendly and only serves to maximize the company’s management costs.
The policy also states that e-commerce companies can create software that helps make it easier and better for both consumers and businesses. But it would be better if the policy was designed to bring this software under the tax net, which would solve the big problem of the e-commerce industry.
The basic understanding is e-commerce company software and logistics. It would be very beneficial to bring it under the tax net as it would cost a lot to make software.
I also personally appreciate the government’s move to strictly protect consumer data privacy. Article 11.2 states that data collected from consumers may not be used for other purposes and may not be passed on to other parties.
Due to the lack of policy, companies were collecting such data and sharing it with other partner companies. Consumers do not have any information or knowledge about this. But now that the new policy has been implemented, data transactions will become illegal.
The new policy also clearly defines the obligations of intermediary companies. Now all companies will also be able to get performance guidelines. The following types of liability policies for intermediary companies are mentioned in the policy.
- Provide the goods or services you are mediating.
- To accept the goods or services sold by the intermediary company if the consumer returns them on a legal basis.
- To be responsible for the grievances of the service recipients and to facilitate dispute resolution
The warranty provision mentioned in one clause is somewhat vague. Because in fact the responsibility for the warranty does not lie with the intermediary but with the brand. Let’s look at an example to understand this.
If you buy any of LG’s TVs, the warranty of that TV from wherever you buy is the responsibility of LG’s Nepali official seller.
The same thing applies to e-commerce. Because eCommerce is not a warranty company. There is only one seller. But Intermediary also needs to provide the consumer with all the necessary information about the product, so that they can easily claim the warranty.
This policy has made it mandatory for all existing e-commerce companies and new companies to register with the Department of Industry and Supplies. The government has warned to pay a fine of up to Rs 100,000 if found violating the law.
This is not a problem for e-commerce companies. This will make the company more accountable for its performance. Also, if the above-mentioned requirement set by the government is not met, the company will have to pay the same amount of fine.
I hope that this policy will facilitate existing business operations, new startups as well as regulate all industries and prevent consumers from being deceived and swindled.
In the end, I will openly advocate for the loss of living in Nepal due to the weak state policy of the country. I would like to add that this policy is creating additional problems for the entrepreneurs who are coming and wanting to come in e-commerce.
If the Department of Commerce and Supplies is its stakeholder body, it can regulate all e-commerce laws. The time has come to implement the one-door policy that the government has been saying for a long time.
This would be a welcome step to encourage entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises in the country. In order to work as an e-consultant in Nepal, you need to be registered with the following organizations.
- Ward Office
- Office of the Registrar of Companies
- Department of Industry
- Inland Revenue Department
- Department of Commerce and Supplies
- State mechanism according to the nature of business
The difficulties created by the bureaucracy, the complexity of compliance, and the sudden policy changes have made Nepal extremely unfavorable for startups and foreign investment.
I still remember a meeting with an angel investor from the Netherlands who was carrying a portfolio of Nepali companies.
He said, ‘This is my last investment in Nepal. I would rather invest in Vietnam than in Nepal. There is no certainty of the policy here and FM can change the policy overnight if it wants to. ‘
Dr. Khatiwada had increased the need for foreign investment in Nepal by 10 times. As a result, it was almost impossible for small and medium enterprises in Nepal to raise foreign investment.
If the youth of this country are still trying, I argue that it is the responsibility of the government to make it easy and possible to do so in Nepal.
An SME can only create a few jobs, but if millions of SMEs come together, it can solve the problem of unemployment, poverty, and emigration. The state government should realize these things as soon as possible and work in the interest of the youth.
We can find reasons to live and work in those countries. Otherwise, our final destination will be abroad, where there are good opportunities for good people and they are likely to perform well in their field of expertise and expertise.