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Handset Retailers Up The Ante Against Online Players, Seek Tax Probe

Handset retailers said that they will be meeting the finance minister to demand a probe for violations of tax laws against the e-commerce players, while renewing their demand for a separate regulator for the segment.

“In light of order to probe e-commerce predatory practices issued by CCI (Competition Commission of India) yesterday, we will approach the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman this week, asking for a separate investigation in GST and income tax return filings by etailers,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

“We will also meet commerce minister Piyush Goyal asking to roll-out an e-commerce policy and reiterate the need for a separate regulatory body,” he added.

The comments came a day after CCI ordered a probe into alleged competition law violations by Amazon and Flipkart on Monday and asked the Director General to submit a report within 60 days. Retailers described the probe as the first step “towards victory” in their battle against predatory pricing of e-commerce players.

Although traders are optimistic about the outcomes of the probe, they said they will continue building pressure on the government.

“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will face unprecedented protests during India trip this week. The protests will be spearheaded by CAIT representing 70 million traders and 40,000 trade associations,” CAIT national secretary Sumit Agarwal said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Last week the CCI, released a study on irregularities in business practices of e-commerce companies and called for self-regulation. Agitated by the competition watchdog’s soft view on the matter, retailer bodies including CAIT, All-Indian Mobile Retailer Association and Delhi Vyapar Sangh filed a plea demanding urgent intervention.

Retailers said that they, along with other trader associations, had furnished enough proof of predatory practices by e-commerce players such as Amazon and Flipkart, which resulted in the CCI probe.

“In our petition to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) we had furnished enough evidences on predatory pricing, deep discounting, mass investor funding, exclusivity, preferential seller system, distorting the market price and violation of FDI policy done by Flipkart and Amazon,” said AIMRA president Arvinder Khurana.

Khandelwal also said in case CCI probe turns out to be in favour of etailers, traders will move Supreme Court since it is the highest appellate body above CCI.―India Finance News

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