Pakistan Agriculture News

Ministry of Commerce finalises draft of e-commerce policy

After a prolonged deliberation and slow-paced work for over two years, Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has finalized a draft of national e-commerce policy, which will be sent to the prime minister for approval.

According to reliable sources at MoC, the ministry after consultation with various ministries, institutions and other stakeholders, has developed a draft of e-policy framework to promote and facilitate the digital trade in the country as per applied practices in advanced world.

Though, the ministry was given the target of framing the policy by the mid of 2016 but it could not meet the target for various reasons especially because of non-cooperation by provinces and government institutions. However, the insiders told Pakistan Today that around 1000-page draft policy was almost ready for approval from prime minister and cabinet. “The MoC will soon be sending it to PM House,” said the sources.

The ministry had recently completed its consultation with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), revenue commissioners of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, to resolve the issues related to double and overlapping of taxes.

The PM House last year had rejected a draft report of MoC on e-commerce saying that it was incomplete and unsatisfactory. The ministry was asked to incorporate laws for e-signature, e-contracting and a national platform for e-commerce related financial transactions.

The ministry was asked to develop logistic systems powered by GPS and cell phones, up-gradation and integration of Pakistan Post’s operations in consultation with the Ministry of Communications, so that it could be positioned to benefit from development of e-commerce and changes in trade regulations, to make them more supportive to e-commerce.

Online security was a major issue facing the e-commerce industry in Pakistan, as many potential consumers considered online payments risky. Banks were also advised to rationalise the cost of e-commerce transactions. According to SBP, the number of m-wallet accounts in Pakistan has exceeded to 16 million.

In Pakistan, broadband penetration rate has doubled every single year since 2013. The Global Findex report showed Pakistan led mobile banking transactions in South Asia with 11 per cent of citizens using mobile phones to carry out financial transactions.

Pakistan has electronic transaction laws and has recently passed cyber crime laws, while data and consumer protection laws are pending for approval. According to MoC, the size of e-commerce in Pakistan was expected to reach $1 billion by 2020.

It may recall here that Pakistan is emerging as fastest growing e-commerce market in the world. Alibaba Group, one of the most renowned names in online commerce, has signed an agreement with Ministry of Commerce this year for extending its support to e-commerce in Pakistan.