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Saturday,24-July-2021

Business

CAIT asks Piyush Goyal to direct CCI probe into Amazon, Flipkart

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A day after the Karnataka High Court judgement dismissing the petition of Amazon & Flipkart, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Saturday sent a communication to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal urging him to direct the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to immediately initiate investigation proceedings against Amazon and Flipkart without any further ado.

The CAIT has also urged Goyal to immediately issue a fresh Press Note replacing Press Note 2 of the FDI policy with a Monitoring mechanism to ensure that law of the land prevails and no one should dare to violate the policy, law or the rules. The CAIT has also proposed that to bring greater transparency in e-commerce business, every company indulging into any e-commerce activity through any type of electronic mode should have to take a Registration Number from the DPIIT.

CAIT declared that traders across the Country will observe forthcoming week beginning 14th June to 21st June as ” E-Commerce Purification Week” under which thousands of trade associations of the Country , on forthcoming 16th June, will handover a memorandum in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to their respective District Collectors urging the Union Government to take immediate steps to stop continued violations of the policy and the rules by Amazon, Flipkart and other similar foreign funded e-commerce companies.

The traders delegation will meet Chief Minister and Finance Minister of their respective State and will call upon that small traders must not face any backlash from e-commerce companies. The trade associations across the Country will send memorandums to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to protect the business community from the onslaught of e-commerce companies.

CAIT said these e-commerce companies have left no stone unturned in passing deaf ears to the repeated statements made by Goyal several times and have indulged in unethical & illegal activities by flouting the mandatory provisions of the FDI Policy in both letter & spirit. This fact has been corroborated by Delhi High Court in January 2021 in the matter of Amazon v/s Future Retail that Amazon is indulging into mal-practices and yesterday when Karnataka High Court stated in its order that “It is expected that an order directing investigation be supported by ‘some reasoning’, which the commission has fulfilled”. This observation of the Court has substantiated the fact that everything is not going well and therefore, the investigation should continue. Both the trade leaders complimented CCI for arguing the case well and stood firmly with its observations and actions.

CAIT said that the misunderstanding of the e-commerce Companies that India’s laws are weak and can be manipulated either way as per the convenience must be washed away with immediate credible actions.

Traders across the country have been taken on a ride by these companies and slowly and gradually are losing the confidence in the administrative system and to regain such confidence, strict steps are needed to ensure that whosoever, small or big, should not even think of violating the law or the policy.

CAIT said inspite of these daylight blatant violations, so far the officials and the Departments concerned have not taken any significant step to curb the mal-practices of these e-commerce companies. It is requested that stern directions may be issued to the concerned officials to take immediate steps to maintain an even level playing field as elaborated by you number of times-said the trade leaders.

CAIT said that the game of capital dumping by these so called marketplaces has dumped the entrepreneurial skills and human capital of the country which is a cognizable offence. Making the human capital of any Country to sit idle, displacing them from their businesses and encroaching upon their livelihood by these capital behemoths is certainly never the ” Bharat” which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dreamed of. This policy is killing the “Atmnirbhar Bharat” spirit of the people of India.

“These companies are trying to establish themselves as the second edition of East India Company to fulfill their aspirations and ulterior motives to control & dominate not only the e-commerce but the entire landscape of the retail trade of India which is being run by more than 8 crore traders providing employment to nearly 40 crore people and generating an annual turnover of about Rs.115 lakh crores of rupees,” CAIT added.

The traders body added that both Amazon & Flipkart have claimed from time to time that they are the most law compliant bodies and if it is so then why they are afraid of any investigation into their business model and business practices and have tried their level best to stall the investigation ordered by the CCI.

“Let there be a thorough probe by the CCI and these Companies should emerge victorious amidst various complaints made against them from time to time. The CCI investigation into their business model is in fact a credible opportunity for them to become a role model for the trade and industry of India, as claimed by them that they are the real engine of growth of small businesses and also to establish that they are the saviors. All attempts to stall the investigation proceedings by Amazon & Flipkart certainly reinforce the allegations that these Companies are indulged in law violating business model to the thick and thin,” it added.

Amazon and Flipkart claim that they are the true marketplace for e-commerce activities in India and helping small traders to grow their businesses and in fact substantial numbers of small traders have grown big under their business model, as per their claims. Their claims sends a message that these companies are in fact charitable organizations and they took pity on vulnerable conditions of small businesses and therefore providing them bigger opportunities to grow their businesses under the pious and holy umbrella of these Companies and they are the only alternative in India for the small traders to grow, CAIT said.

“However, we are of the considered opinion that such claims are absolutely unfounded and have no legs to stand. If they are true to their version and claim, they should provide a list of only top 10 sellers on their portal in the last 5 years which will reveal the fact that names of the same set of sellers will exist during these 5 years as the top sellers which are prominently related to them in one way or the other thereby consolidating the sales into few hands only. These foreign e-commerce entities are habituated to make tall claims about helping and assisting small and medium retailers while ruthlessly destroying the very fabric of our traditional Kirana and small merchants,” the body said.

“The business community of India is self dependent and does not require mercy of any foreign entity. We are absolutely not orphan Childs as perceived by these Companies and are quite competent to ensure our growth within the parameters of the policies defined for the domestic trade of India by the Government and it is not a fallacy but an admitted fact that whatever turnover is generated by the domestic trade in India, is the proven result of hard labour that traders of India have put into their businesses and the level of CSR activities being conducted by the traders in India is much larger than any of the Corporate house including Amazon, Flipkart and others,” the body said.

Traders across the Country are in pain and anguish at a recent remark made by Amit Agarwal, Country Head, Amazon India, where he said that for India to be a global destination for investments, it must assert the validity of contracts and legal agreements.

“We have never come across a more paradoxical statement by an industry head because if there is one business group that needs to regard and follow the law of the land, it is Amazon India. It will be better for Mr. Aggarwal not to make mockery of the Indian legal system that Amazon is resorting to in addition to the wide-scale and ever-subsisting violations of the FEMA/FDI Policy, lockdown guidelines and other laws and better put absolute focus in complying the policy and the law spelled out in FDI policy of the Government,” CAIT said.

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IRSDC invites RFQ for redevelopment of Udaipur railway station

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The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd (IRSDC) has invited Requests for Qualification (RFQ) to redevelop Udaipur City Railway Station, officials said on Saturday.

The IRSDC in a statement said that the objective is to redevelop Udaipur railway station into a modern station with state of the art amenities.

It said that the redeveloped station has been envisioned to be transformed into an integrated railway station at par with an international airport.

“The station will be redeveloped on a Design-Build Finance Operate Transfer (DBFOT) model using principles of Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The concession period shall be 60 years and the concessionaire shall have the obligation to redevelop and maintain the station for 60 years along with the right to collect revenue from station users and commercial development,” it said.

It added that the total area for mandatory development is 49,8115 square meter and the built-up area for station estate development is up to 1,0,1374 square meter.

“The pre-bid meeting will be held on August 6, and the deadline for bid submission is August 31,” it said.

S.K. Lohia, MD and CEO, IRSDC said, “Udaipur City is a tourist destination of global repute. The redevelopment of the railway station aims to transform it into an iconic hub on the lines of an international airport and reimagine the travel experience.”

Lohia said that it will position the station as a fitting gateway to the city of Udaipur and have a multiplier effect on the local economy in terms of the generation of employment opportunities and subsequent commercial development.

“As a nodal organisation entrusted with station redevelopment, IRSDC is fully committed to deliver the project as per the schedule and contribute to India’s growth story,” he said.

The IRSDC said that redevelopment envisages a new east-side entry station building, with plans for new East-West Road connectivity through Railway Under-Bridges, connectivity with ISBT through commercial land via a network of pedestrian walkways, segregation of entry/exit in the station and easy signage for all types of passengers.

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Telcos sought relief in guise of arithmetical errors: SC in AGR case

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The Supreme Court has said that the telecom companies’ plea seeking ‘rectification’ of defects in computation of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) would lead to recalculation of the amount in AGR dues, which has already been rejected by the top court last year.

In a big setback for telcos, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed their plea seeking correction of alleged errors in AGR calculation as misconceived. A day after the top court pronounced the judgment in the matter, it was uploaded on its website on Saturday afternoon.

The telcos had urged the top court to permit the Centre to verify their accounts and rectify the alleged defects in the computation of AGR dues, stating that if it is not allowed, the matter could threaten some of them in a highly competitive sector.

Dismissing the telcos’ plea, a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao said: “Though these applications appear to be innocuous at first blush, the end result of the relief sought by the applicants in the guise of correction or rectification of the defects or arithmetical errors in calculation of AGR dues, would be recalculation which would amount to the AGR dues, as specified in the order of this court dated July 20, 2020, being altered.”

The bench, also comprising justices S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah, noted that even at the time of passing of the July 20, 2020 order, an attempt was made to seek recalculation and reassessment, which was rejected by the top court outright.

“The dispute relating to AGR dues had remained pending in courts for a very long period of time and bearing this in mind, this court was at pains to emphasise, at the cost of repetition, that the AGR dues payable by the TSPs (telecom service providers) cannot be the subject matter of any future litigation,” the bench said, making it clear that any application for altering the AGR dues cannot be entertained.

The telcos had argued that the accounts pertaining to several years had to be scrutinised to arrive at the amounts payable by them towards AGR dues.

The companies had contended that a scrutiny of the accounts had revealed that certain ‘arithmetical errors’ had arisen due to inadvertence on the part of the Department of Telecommunications while computing the dues.

They argued that the top court judgment passed on September 1, 2020 needed clarification as even calculation errors cannot be rectified by the Union of India in view this judgment.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Vodafone Idea, had referred to a note to demonstrate certain glaring errors in the demand raised by the Centre wherein amounts that have already been paid by the company were not taken into account for computing the outstanding AGR dues.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Airtel, had submitted that the errors committed in computation of its AGR dues arose due to double counting of some revenue items, payments made but not accounted for, and accrued deductions not being given effect to.

Singhvi said that his client should not be made to suffer for certain calculation errors made by the Centre.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar, representing Tata, had submitted that there is no prohibition in seeking rectification of inadvertent errors committed in the calculation of AGR dues.

According to a note submitted by the DoT in the top court last year, Vodafone Idea owed Rs 58,254 crore, out of which it had paid around Rs 7,850 crore; Bharti Airtel owed Rs 43,980 crore of which it had paid over Rs 18,000 crore; and Tata Telecom owed Rs 16, 798 crores, out of which it had paid Rs 4,197 crore.

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Go First operates first night flight from Jammu to Delhi

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Budget airline Go First, formerly known as GoAir, has operated the first ever night flight from Jammu to Delhi.

Accordingly, the flight ‘G8 196’ – took off at 8.00 p.m. on Friday and was operated on Airbus A320neo.

“Going forward, Go First will operate scheduled flight from Jammu to Delhi and Srinagar.”

“This heralds the beginning of a new era for the union territory that has long advocated the introduction of night flights for better connectivity with the rest of the country.”

Notably, the airline, will operate four flights a week from Jammu on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to Delhi and three flight from Jammu on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday to Srinagar, respectively.

According to Kaushik Khona, Chief Executive Officer, Go First: “This initiative will assist the farming community and also strengthen the tourism sector, which plays a major role in the economic growth of the region.”

“We will continue to provide better connectivity and play a role in the economic development of J&K. Go First is also strengthening the network across the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir by enhancing the number of flights to-and-from Jammu to Delhi and Srinagar.”

Earlier this year, the carrier signed an MoU with the J&K government for the transport of perishable horticulture and agriculture produce to international markets at competitive rates.

This is a boon to farmers in the region and is aiding them generate an optimum return for their produce, the airline said.

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