The draft e- commerce policy is claimed to be made keeping in mind the country’s national interest amd employment creation, officials known to the process said.
A senior official said, “ The aim of this draft policy is national interest and that our citizens’ data is ours. Data is business, everything else is ancillary”.
According to the draft policy, location of computing facilities like data centres and server firms within the country will not only give a fillip to computing in India but will also lead to job creation, especially when activities like back-office processing are expected to decrease because of rising automation. The draft states that cloud computing will be an economic activity in India, while data analytics will be a major job creator. “It is vital that we retain the control of data… We will do an exercise to see how many jobs can be created and what are the costs involved,” the official said.
The document also proposes granting the ‘infrastructure status’ to data storage services such as data centres, server firms, towers, tower stations, equipment, optical wires, signal transceivers and antennae. This will ensure lower borrowing rates and easy access to bank finance and tax concessions.
The draft also favours a review of the current practice of not imposing customs duty on electronic transmissions as per the existing norms in the World Trade Organisation. It assumes significance as the US, Singapore and Korea have demanded that the temporary moratorium be made permanent.
“While data is the pivot of the policy, it would help India’s cause at the WTO and strengthen the opposition to ecommerce negotiations,” said another official.
India and South Africa have asked WTO to explain why customs duty should not be levied on electronic transmissions as it is a cause for revenue loss for developing countries.
“As more products, which are presently traded in physical form, get digitised and delivered through electronic transmissions, the moratorium on customs duty would result in higher revenue loss,” the two countries said in a joint submission.