Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal says
The regulatory bodies that were tasked with protecting consumer rights have to take responsibility for the scams and frauds entailing the e-commerce sector, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said Wednesday.
Kamal said this at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
The minister said specific regulatory bodies regulate particular activities, for example, the Finance Ministry has the central bank under it which regulates certain aspects after the Commerce Ministry grants licences to businesses.
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If entrepreneurs venture into a tech-related business, they have to go through the ICT Division, which has certain regulatory duties of its own, he further said.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) officials explained that several regulatory bodies and agencies have to be involved to ensure consumer protection through a framework that still needs to be defined for the e-commerce sector.
The relevant agencies include the Bangladesh Competition Commission, ICT Division, a2i, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, the Bangladesh Bank, as well as the Commerce Ministry, they said.
Despite the Digital Commerce Policy introduced in 2018, much of the framework that has been advised still lacks execution, according to industry insiders.
Earlier, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi requested people to control their urge of buying products at low prices from e-commerce platforms to prevent fraudulent incidents.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police is investigating the money laundering allegations against many of the e-commerce companies.
Law enforcers have also taken several top company officials of the errant e-commerce platforms in custody following allegations and complaints lodged with regulatory bodies.
Founders and top brass of Evaly and Eorange have already been arrested, while others are under investigation.
In recent months, the e-commerce sector has been flooded with complaints relating to product deliveries, advance payments, fraudulent transactions, and embezzlement.
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Evaly, Eorange, Dhamaka, Sirajganjshop, and most recently PriyoShop have been accused of malpractice. Alesha Mart has also been accused of breaching the recently introduced standard operating procedure (SOP) by offering 50% discounts on products through its own card.
According to Evaly, the total liabilities of the e-commerce platform amounted to Tk543 crore as of July 15 with an additional debt of Tk1 crore for shareholder equity. But during interrogation by law enforcement, CEO Mohammad Rassel said debts could be as high as Tk1,000 crore.
Meanwhile, top officials of Eorange have also been arrested for allegations of embezzling Tk1,100 crore.
Just like Evaly, merchants and sellers have decided to take legal action against Dhamaka Shopping, a concern of Invariant Telecom Bangladesh Ltd, citing its failure to honour its previous promises of paying up. They said that they are yet to receive Tk200 crore from the company.