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State Traders' Bodies Lock Horns over e-com

Published: 10th February 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2015 04:34 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: It seems, the state’s two leading traders’ bodies - the Vyapari Vyavasayi Samiti and the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti - don’t agree on the strategy to counter the onslaught of e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart and Jabong.

While the CPM-affiliated Vyapari Vyavasayi Samiti wants the government to intervene to ensure level playing field for the nearly 13 lakh trading community of the state, the Congress-affiliated Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti has decided to tie-up with ‘www.kabooliwala.com’ to allow its members to offer its products to customers on the web portal.

Binny Emmatty, state president of Vyapari Vyavasayi Samiti, which has 3.27 lakh members, said the body’s stated position was that the e-commerce companies are doing roaring business in Kerala because they provide goods cheaper due to tax evasion in the state. “We have higher expenses including rentals, salaries to employees etc,” he said.

He said the state government should ensure steps to plug the loopholes in the tax regime.

Taking a different line, the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti, which claims to have a membership of nearly 10 lakh traders, have signed up with Wintech Group to sell the traders products through the website www.kabooliwala.com.

“Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti was till recently in the forefront against e-commerce companies. Now how can they shift the stand and join e-commerce platform,” Emmatty asked.

T Nasirudeen, state president of Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti, said the decision to tie-up with Wintech Group was to give the state’s traders an equal opportunity in the wake of growing competition from big e-commerce companies.

Samuel Sudhakar, CEO of Wintech Group, declined to provide details of the sales through its e-commerce platform or the number of traders signed up.

According to Emmatty, turnover by e-commerce companies from Kerala stood at Rs 4000 crore in 2012, which went up by Rs 6000 crore in 2013 and Rs 8000 crore in 2014.

When asked about the authenticity of the data, Emmatty said he compiled the figures from courier firms Blue Dart and DHL. He said traders are hoping for some measures from the upcoming budget which would protect the state’s traders.

Last month, the state’s commercial taxes department slapped a fine of Rs 54 crore on four e-commerce firms including Flipkart and Jabong for evasion of tax in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

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