Tougher rules urged for online commerce

Frustrated consumers fed up of ordering online and ending up disappointed and out of pocket could soon benefit from tighter regulation.

New rules for electronic trade in Bahrain are being drawn up to govern the widespread use of online services and help protect customers.

It would oblige all those offering products and services electronically to register a virtual commercial registration (CR)s.

The move follows a growing number of complaints from consumers who have been conned into buying items that either don’t arrive, come damaged, substandard or simply not as advertised.

Parliament financial and economic affairs committee chairman Ahmed Al Salloom said action was needed as the online shopping experience grows – whether through websites, mobile apps and social media – but the standards covering conventional business were not being adhered to.

“It is clear to everyone that the rules on the ground do not apply virtually,” said the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCl) board member.

“Online businesses should be encouraged, through CR registration, as part of an electronic transformation timeframe, with clear terms and conditions.

“It is not about penalising entrepreneurs in any way but the rights of consumers must not be lost as the way people shop continues to develop.”

New legislation would set terms and conditions for providers while also bringing them under the concerned ministry or government establishment in relation to their businesses.

Punishments matching violations were also being drawn up in co-ordination with the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry.

Mr Al Salloom, who is also Bahrain Bloc president, added: “During the Covid-19 pandemic online purchasing has taken a huge step and new businesses have emerged.

“As trade in this manner moves forward there is a growing need to introduce rules that protect the rights of consumers and we are currently working on them, alongside any corresponding punishments for anyone who transgresses.”

The proposed legislation is scheduled for debate next month when the National Assembly – Parliament and Shura Council – reconvenes.

The GDN reported earlier that trade and commercial rules in Bahrain were being reviewed for major revamp by legislators.

Parliament and Shura Council members are looking into ways to enable local businesses in the country to compete when it comes to prices offered by online suppliers.

Legislators believe that there should be lowered requirements and restrictions and some experts suggest increased tariffs on imported goods.

Mr Al Salloom told the GDN then that legislation was needed to help local businesses compete with online local, regional and international sellers.




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