Online Entrepreneurs expressed their grave concern over recent initiative of Ministry of Commerce to introduce a new 'Digital Commerce Act 2023'. Already a draft has been published on the law. The draft proposes that any small entrepreneur, big or small, cannot sell online without compulsory registration.
Under this proposed law, millions of micro entrepreneurs, including housewives and students, all need to register themselves with RJSC (Register of Joint Stock). If they don't have register and continue business, they will be fined or jailed till 6 months.
Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) arranged a roundtable on the draft Digital Commerce Act at BASIS conference hall on Wednesday. FahimMashroor, CEO of Bdjobs.com and AjkerDeal.com gave a keynote presentation.
Entrepreneurs of different e-commerce, marketplaces, logistics and payments companies attended that includes senior officials Syed Mohammad Kamal from Mastercard, ShahabUddin, Vice-President of e-Cab, Arnob Mustafa, Director of e-Cab, Arif Khan from Foodpanda, Fahim Shahriar Andalib from Daraz, Zia Ashraf and Waseem Alam from Chaldal, Eshita Sharmin from Bikroy, Biplob G Rahul from e-Courier, Nasimul Islam from Visa, Ripon Dey from Pollux Tech and a number of online entrepreneurs.
The speakers opined that there are already ample numbers of laws that exist in the country that can protect the interest of online customers. There are over 20 laws related to digital transaction security and commerce. Bangladesh Bank also is authorised with the responsibility to protect the digital payment of customers. According to the speakers, the fraud incidents in 2021 happened mainly because of not applying the existing laws, it did not happen because of lack of laws. For example, despite thousands of complaints against the largest fraudster e-commerce company in the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection, the concerned office did not take any legal actions of against the company, though there are enough laws to support the actions.
Speakers also raise concerns that any new law actually hurts the small entrepreneurs. Big entrepreneurs don't suffer. So, if the law is introduced, thousands of small entrepreneurs who have become self-employed in last few years by doing online business will have to shut down business. This will increase the already high unemployment rate among the educated youth in the country. Speakers requested government authority, specially Prime Minister's office, to consider on the issue.
The roundtable was presided by Zia Ashraf, Chairman of BASIS Digital Commerce Standing Committee.