The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said Tuesday the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal has made it mandatory for sellers to submit the country of origin while registering any new product on the online procurement portal. In line with this action, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is also examining a proposal put forth by a group of traders seeking mandatory ‘country of origin’ tag for products listed on private e-commerce platforms as well, a senior government official told The Indian Express.
This comes at a time when the Centre is pushing the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” campaign to promote locally produced goods and several departments have also launched an offensive against imports from China. Additionally, for buyers, the GeM portal has enabled a ‘Make in India’ filter to allow buyers to choose products that meet the minimum 50% local content criteria.
The move follows a series of decisions taken by the Central government to promote local suppliers across various sectors. These include asking state-owned telecom company BSNL to modify its network upgradation tender to keep foreign firms out of the scope and make the terms preferable for Indian suppliers.
According to the public procurement norms, which were amended by the government earlier this month, the suppliers are categorised into various classes depending on the level of local content in their goods. The GeM portal will now allow buyers to reserve any bid for Class I local suppliers, which have more than 50% local content. As per the rules, for bids below Rs 200 crore, only Class I and Class II — those with more than 20% local content — are eligible to bid.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it has approached Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal asking for the ‘country of origin’ tag to be mandated for other e-commerce platforms as well. “The CAIT raised this demand on 15th June to Commerce Minister. in the wake of the fact that mostly all e-commerce companies are selling Chinese goods in large percentages on their portals and in absence of Country of Origin provision, the customers are unaware about the origin of the Country which certainly influences the choice of the consumers,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said.
The GeM portal, which is a special purpose vehicle of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has earlier taken other measures, too, to promote India made goods. These include facilitating entry of small local sellers in public procurement, implementing preference policies for MSMEs, etc. The purchases through GeM by government users such as various departments, ministries, state governments, public sector undertakings and central armed police forces, have been authorised and made mandatory by Ministry of Finance by adding a new Rule No. 149 in the General Financial Rules, 2017.
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