Proposed electronic commerce law sent to Industry Ministry for reviewThe budget for the next fiscal year has also accorded priority to online transactions.
The Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection has prepared a draft E-Commerce Bill 2020 that aims to create a facilitative regulatory environment for online trade in Nepal.
The proposed law has been sent to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies to be reviewed before it is submitted to the cabinet for its approval.
Extensive discussions are held on the bill before it is tabled in Parliament. After the proposed piece of legislation is passed by Parliament, the president signs it into law.
The e-commerce law will regulate and facilitate the trade of goods, services and intellectual property rights using electronic means, and support the growing digital ecosystem.
Electronic commerce has been steadily growing in Nepal, and the extraordinary situation created by the stay-at-home order following the virus pandemic highlighted its importance. The budget statement for the next fiscal year has also accorded priority to online transactions.
Baikuntha Aryal, secretary at the ministry, said that the preliminary draft was under review.
The draft bill has separated e-commerce into different business models—according to the nature of the business—like inventory, service, marketplace and mixed.
Anyone who wishes to start an e-commerce business needs to be registered with the Company Registrar Office and acquire a licence to operate. This business operation license needs to be renewed every year, according to a copy of the draft obtained by the Post.
As per the proposed law, e-commerce businesses need to obtain a permit from the department within three months from the date the E-Commerce Act comes into force.
After the end of the period, firms have another three months to get their permit by paying a fine. Companies will be barred from conducting transactions if they do not get a permit within the extended period of time.
E-commerce firms are required to issue e-bills, receipts and other documents, and maintain e-records of all transactions, according to the draft.
Information about the goods and services offered by the firm should be posted on its website, and any changes should be immediately updated, says the draft.
The size, variety, weight, quality, features and price needs to be clearly mentioned in both Nepali and English languages, including the expiry date and the label of the goods on the website.
Customers have the right to return goods sold with a warranty within 15 days from the date of purchase in case of any faults in them.
If goods of a lower quality or faulty goods are delivered to the customer and they face hassles, they have the right to claim compensation.
Traders are required to display their registration certificate, licence, name and address and details on the official website, and all documentation needs to be fully visible to the public, the draft says.
Buyers can cancel their order within 24 hours and place an order for another product should they change their mind.
They can make online payment through their own account by using any digital platform operating in the country as per the law, or they can make online bank transactions or pay cash. Traders should provide information regarding payment clearly.
The service provider will be compensated for loss caused by unauthorised and unsecured payments made by the service user through its own account, and it will be the responsibility of each user to immediately inform the service provider of the unauthorised payment made through his account.
If any item purchased from the seller is different from the one demanded by the buyer, if it is damaged, or if it is in an unusable condition, the buyer must return the item within five days from the date of receipt. The buyer can buy another item or withdraw the amount paid.
If there is an error in the goods or services sold by the intermediary dealer electronically, if the goods sold or handed over are different from what is demanded, or if they cannot be used due to poor quality, such goods may be withdrawn, exchanged, or refunded. The responsibility will be on the mediating businessman.
Entrepreneurs operating under the e-business regulation will be liable to take back and exchange non-consumable goods due to defects in the production of the goods or services sold by electronic means.
According to the nature of the item to be transported, such item should be transported within the specified period. The shipper will be responsible if the item is damaged, leaked or destroyed during transportation.
If the goods and services are not available as demanded by the buyer during the purchase and sale of goods and services or if the goods and services are not available due to other reasons, there will be no conditions contrary to the agreement for refund.
The customer’s details regarding credit/debit, personal details and bank account number should be kept private and secure.
The department will conduct a necessary inspection of the trading company, the goods and storage facilities. If any traders are found violating the rules, they will be fined from Rs25,000 to Rs300,000, depending on the case.