The e-commerce giant Amazon has been found flouting the rules mandating the e-commerce companies to display the country of origin of products that the company is selling on its platforms. However, after being found guilty of the mistake, the Centre on November 26 imposed a paltry fine of Rs 25,000 on the US-based company. According to media reports, both Amazon and Flipkart were issued notices by the Consumer Affairs Ministry in October. The penalty was imposed as Amazon’s answer was found “unsatisfactory”, as per an order dated November 19, said the statement.
When the news of the centre imposing a ‘hefty’ Rs 25,000 penalty hit the newsstands, CAIT–the apex body of the traders’ union which represents 4,000 traders’ bodies and more than 7 crore traders across the country came down heavily on the decision of the government.
CAIT has stated that the fundamental principle behind charging fines is to make the offender realise their mistakes and motivate them to not commit the same offence again. However, a small penalty of just Rs 25,000 has no significance and the offence committed by Amazon India demanded a seven-day ban on the e-commerce giant and other companies who are continuously offending the norms, the trader body said. “Let there be an exemplary punishment,” demanded CAIT.
“The government is custodian of the laws framed by it and therefore, it is the duty of the government to maintain sanctity and strict implementation of the law both in letter and spirit,” said the CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal. They said that charging an e-commerce giant like Amazon India just Rs 25,000, for violating norms, is more like compromising with the law.
Just to give you a little perspective, Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, added a record $13 billion to his net worth on a Monday only in the month of July and we are not talking about the gargantuan revenues of Amazon. Therefore, the fine of Rs 25,000 is not only laughable but not even a drop in the ocean.
CAIT has been batting aggressively for PM Modi’s ‘Local se Vocal’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ Campaign and thus if Amazon or any other e-commerce company hides the country of manufacturing, then the body is bound to get agitated.
Reported by TFI, when the India-China border clash heightened due to continued Chinese aggression, CAIT had decided to boycott Chinese goods worth more than 1 lakh crore rupees– 13 billion dollars approximately– by December 2021. CAIT had prepared a list of 3,000 items which included toys, gifts, FMCG products, confectionery products, clothes, and watches, as superior indigenously manufactured alternatives of these items were available.
Keeping the December 2021 deadline in mind, the CAIT is likely to launch its e-commerce portal Bharat E Market to bring its traders’ community online even as it continues to take on Amazon and Flipkart over their alleged malpractices in business—with the aforementioned ‘country of origin’ issue being another deal breaker.
The centre should take cognizance of the issue with a more realistic approach and if the rules in the books suggest that 25,000 is the uppermost penalty limit then it needs to be changed and changed quickly. The meagre fine of 25k sets a precedent that Amazon which already doesn’t pay its taxes can get away after flouting the rules by muscling its way through by splurging some nickles.