Ministry invites feedback on e-commerce policy

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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce has asked all the stakeholders to share their concerns with possible remedies for consideration in the National e-Commerce Council for effective implementation of the e-commerce policy.

The offer came from Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood at the conclusion of a two-day consultative meeting on e-commerce on Tuesday.

According to an official announcement issued by the Commerce Division, the National e-Commerce Council has been established to implement an e-commerce policy framework. The council will meet at least twice a year.

During the meeting, the private sector highlighted the bottlenecks faced by them in this area including taxation issues, payment digitization, consumer protection, training, and capacity building of small and medium enterprises including women entrepreneurs operating from remote areas of the country.

The government understands the potential of e-commerce and is working at an accelerated pace to boost e-trade, said the adviser, adding that the country’s broadband penetration rate is growing rapidly.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority data reveals that as of July 2019 there were around 161 million cellular subscribers, 70m 3G/4G users and 72m broadband consumers with a total teledensity of 76.56 percent.

The State Bank of Pakistan’s Annual Report shows that sales of local and international e-commerce merchants were Rs20.7 billion in 2017 growing by 93.7pc in 2018 to Rs40.1bn.

“Let me tell you that these figures do not include all the post-paid, cash-on-delivery transactions which account for around 60pc of the total value of e-commerce in Pakistan,” the adviser said while adding that the actual volume of e-commerce in the country is significantly higher.

While highlighting the significance of e-commerce and the government’s resolve to facilitate and promote this sector, Dawood said the Ministry of Commerce is actively engaged with relevant stakeholders for effective implementation of the e-commerce policy since its approval from the Federal Cabinet on Oct 1, 2019.

He said that the commerce ministry’s focus has always been on harmonizing and simplifying procedures for the robust growth of e-commerce.

He added that a lot of good work has already been done in the form of policy formulation and the best minds of the public and private sector worked tirelessly towards this goal.

For the effective implementation, the government, private sector, and academia need to work together to chart a path forward in this increasingly dynamic and high-velocity change sector, he said.

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