June 26: The government is preparing to formulate a law to regulate and monitor online shopping business. According to sources close to the matter, the introduction of law will safeguard the interest of general customers as there has been an increase in the number of complains that consumers have been cheated in online dealings. According to sources close to the matter, the Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection Management (DoCSM) is in the process to draft the law.
The department is preparing to send the draft of the law to Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies this week. Currently, different companies are selling food and different types of consumer items through online portals in Nepal.
According to DoCSM officials, if the law is enacted, entire online business sector which includes more than 150 online businesses will come under the regulatory purview. Officials say the law will incorporate arrangements required to operate the online business in the country.
Online portals such as Daraz, Sasto Deal, Gyapu, Metro Tarkari, Foodmandu, and Cheers are very popular among urban consumers. Due to the lockdown, the number of people shopping essential things online has increased in big cities across the country. Even the government owned Nepal Food Management and Trading Company also started online ordering and delivery business in Kathmandu during the lockdown.
Deputy Secretary of DoCSM, Bhagwan Lal Shrestha informed that necessary legal framework is being formulated to regulate the booming sector.
Although complains related to online shopping frauds has increased in the recent times, it has become difficult for the government agencies to solve the issue due to lack of regulation. According to the department officials, around 60 such complaints were received during the lockdown. Rabindra Acharya, spokesperson of DoCSM informed that action has been taken against 20 online companies in the last few months. “Our main goal is to protect the interests of consumers and regulate the online shopping service providers.” He said that the law will also promote and develop online business sector.
The government had unveiled a work plan to study about the development and use of online business a year ago.
As there is no specific legal framework to regulate online business in Nepal, majority of the companies are operating without registration. Some companies are registered at the Department of Industry. The law will make it mandatory for e-commerce and other online retail companies to register and get license before they start operations.
DoCSM officials say that the law will have provision to allow a company to sell only the specified goods and services. “Currently, service providers are selling services or goods that they aren’t supposed to,” said Acharya, “Now companies will have to apply for the services they want to sell online and on that basis and we will issue licenses accordingly.”