Covid-19 curfews: Nasscom says laptops and chargers are 'essential'

Topics Coronavirus | Maharashtra | Lockdown

The e-commerce industry has urged the government to allow it to deliver both essential and non-essential goods during the Covid-19 curfews
Even as the e-commerce industry has urged the government to allow it to deliver both essential and non-essential goods and services during the Covid-19 curfews, industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) has communicated to various central and state departments that items like laptops, mobile phones and chargers are critical for work from home (WFH).  

Nasscom has written to the CEO, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), the secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the secretary, ministry of home affairs, requesting that e-commerce firms be permitted to deliver all goods and services and not be restr­icted to just “essential” ones, subject to appropriate safety norms. A senior government official told Business Standard that DPIIT is yet to take a call on the matter. 

In its letter to the MIDC, Nasscom has stressed the need for a clarification while stating that e-commerce companies must be allowed to deliver all goods and services. It pointed out that access to items such as laptops and chargers, home printers, mobile phones and chargers, stationery are crucial to work from home and essential household goods such as kitchen, bath, electrical items are necessary to carry out day-to-day activities.

“In this context, we believe permitting e -commerce companies to supply all goods and services will minimise the number of people stepping out of their homes to avail goods and services,” the letter said. Enabling access to these items will not only prevent any disruption in daily activities, but will also curb the spread of Covid-19,” Nasscom said. 

In its representation, the industry body pointed out that last year, the central government had eventually allowed e-commerce companies to deliver all goods and services. For the last one year, industry has been taking all the necessary precautions to contain the spread of the pandemic, such as providing contact-less delivery, it said. The issue of deliveries through online channels is beginning to mirror the situation last year. While the e-commerce sector is asking for all kinds of deliveries to be allowed, offline traders say that if the former are free to operate without distinction between essential and non-essential goods, then they, too, should be allowed to open shops.

The Confederation of All India Traders has written to commerce minister Piyush Goyal and state chief ministers, stating that if e-commerce firms are allowed to sell non-essential goods “then keeping a parity, the traders in physical markets should also be allowed to operate their business activities pertaining to non-essential goods. There cannot be any difference between physical stores and e-commerce companies for this matter will minimise the contribution of traders who are the sons of India”.

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