Plugging loopholes or proper enforcement of existing laws can be more effective in curbing fraudulence in e-commerce instead of any new law or regulatory body.
E-commerce entrepreneurs and legal experts observed at a dialogue of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday two days after the commerce ministry talked about forming a new regulatory body.
“There is no separate regulatory body even in the USA to control e-commerce business. But we’ve come to know that the government will form a regulatory body, which will make e-commerce business more difficult,” Waseem Alim, Founder & CEO, chaldal.com
“It will be more effective, if market monitoring is intensified through the existing agencies of the government,” he added. He said starting a new business is already difficult, additional regulations will discourage new businesses.
In the recent period, the e-commerce sector is facing serious challenges due to the fraudulent behaviours of a number of E-commerce businesses. Thousands of consumers have lost their money to them.
“We don’t want any new regulator. To bring back discipline to E-commerce sector, Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection has to be made more effective. It is demand of time to make it more accountable,” Fahim Mashroor, the Bdjobs.com CEO, said echoing Alim.
The central bank had a big role to play in curbing e-commerce fraudulence, but it failed, he alleged. “All these happened before the eyes of Bangladesh Bank. Their negligence was clear. The role of banks is not beyond question,”
“What was the role of the banks when such a huge amount of money was transacted through banking channel?” questioned Md Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, Chief of Staff, Shop Up.
He also thinks that there will be no need of new law if e-commerce business is strictly monitored.
“There is a tendency in the country to mention deficiency of law for the reason of any crisis. But the country has deficiency of enforcement of law,” legal expert Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam alleged.
“Corrective measures will have to be taken after detecting flaws of existing laws. Otherwise, enforcement problem will prevail even after enactment of new law,” he observed.
Institutional capacity of the relevant organisations and departments such as the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bank, Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, Financial Intelligence Unit, and Competition Commission should be enhanced through sufficient and skilled human resource and adoption of technology, the sector experts suggested.
Besides, coordination among the various institutions including the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bank, law enforcing bodies and other relevant organizations should be increased and the role of these bodies needs to be clearly defined, they added.
Noted economist and CPD’s Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan stated that there is a huge lack in good governance, which is leading to frequent incidents of fraudulence with consumers.
Awareness among the e-commerce customers should be increased so that they behave responsibly and do not fall prey to such traps of dishonest e-commerce organizations, sector experts suggested.
Private associations like e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) have a role to collect information of new businesses before registering, asses their sustainability and allow membership of the businesses by monitoring the operations of these businesses.
The government should solve the problem but through the legal framework of the Company Act and not by investing public money on these fraudulent companies, according to them.
CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun repented that despite a robust growth of e-commerce business in the country, the recent incidents of fraudulence have eroded investor’s confidence and at the same time hampered job creation.
She also citied absence of any regulatory and specific policy framework for such fraudulent incidents. She also suggested that the policies should not be confined to papers only.