Wednesday February 19, 2020
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DPIIT Sends Questionnaire to Amazon, Flipkart on FDI Norms Adherence: Report

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail

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Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

After repeated complaints by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) over alleged violation of FDI norms by e-commerce majors, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sent a questionnaire to Amazon and Flipkart over their adherence to the norms for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The questions are concerned with their fund flow, business model and inventory management, people in the know of things said, adding that it also asks the names of their respective top five sellers and price list of vendors on these platforms.

Official sources said that the department would look into their replies and then decide whether more clarification is required or any action needs to be taken.

“It is basically related to the complaints of small retailers, and a series of questions have been sent to them which are relevant to understand the allegations which small retailers make about these online platforms which are under FDI,” a source told IANS.

Questions sent to Amazon and Flipkart by IANS, however, were not immediately replied.

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Traders’ body CAIT has time and again approached the government for its intervention regarding the “deep” discounts offered by these platforms during festival sales. CAIT recently sought an independent audit of the business models of both Amazon and Flipkart on the charges of predatory pricing and deep discounting, among others.

amazon, one-day delivery
An Amazon Prime Truck is on the Road in Virginia, transporting thousands of items ordered from online giant Amazon. (D Bekheet/VOA)

The move by DPIIT comes after Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal last week warned of strict action against e-commerce companies if they were found violating India’s e-commerce policy.

In a related development, CAIT on Sunday alleged that not only the e-commerce companies, but even large number of brands in mobile, FMCG, electronics, electrical appliances, footwear, garments, gift articles, watches and other segments as well as several banks are also responsible for distortion of prices of different products on online portals.

“It is apparent that these brand-owning companies are also exploiting the offline market being hand in glove with e-commerce companies having separate price policy for both online and offline markets which is a clear violation of the Competition Act,” CAIT said in a statement.

It also criticised the banks which give cash back and different types of discounts for purchasing goods from e-commerce portals by making payments through their respective credit or debit cards.

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail. (IANS)

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Federal Judge in Washington Halts Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

US Court has currently put a pause to Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

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People stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon says President Donald Trump's “improper pressure" and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract. VOA

By Peyton Bigora

A federal judge in Washington has halted, for now, a major U.S. Defense Department cyber contract, blocking Microsoft Corp. from working on the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud-computing initiative pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought by rival Amazon.com.

In October, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, which has an estimated worth of around $10 billion over the next decade. The JEDI project will process and store classified data to provide the U.S. military improved communications with soldiers in the field as well as artificial intelligence to speed up war planning and fighting capabilities.

By November, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, filed a lawsuit alleging the Defense Department unfairly judged its bid for the contract. Amazon believes the process was tainted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s animosity towards Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, which Trump has regularly accused of bias against him.

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The Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France. VOA

Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said the JEDI contract cannot continue to be enacted “until further order of the court.” Judge Campbell-Smith’s full opinion was sealed.

While Amazon scored at least a preliminary victory, it is required to create a $42 million security fund that will be used to pay for any damages if the court later finds the injunction was improper.

Earlier this week, Amazon asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to allow them to question Trump and top Pentagon leaders, including former defense secretary James Mattis and Defense Secretary Mark Esper about any political interference from the White House in the awarding of the contract.

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“We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” said Microsoft’s spokesman Frank Shaw, adding that he is disappointed by the ruling and believes the Pentagon’s decision-making process was fair. (VOA)