by Nazrul Islam in Dhaka,
The banking authorities have recently asked all commercial banks to freeze the accounts maintained by the top officials of the e-commerce business house E-valy, following media reports about its ‘controversial’ marketing model in Bangladesh.
It came as a surprise as to whether the order issued by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Bangladesh Bank will protect the interest of the customers who had signed in and deposited money to the e-commerce platform.
It is reliably learnt that thousands of customers had signed up with E-valy after it offered massive discounts and cash-back over a huge array of products ranging from food items to automobiles.
In a competitive e-commerce market, E-valy introduced a new product marketing model in Bangladesh to win the hearts of the customers – a practice followed in most parts of the world.
Bangladesh. which is on the quest to become a digital nation as soon as possible, adopted a policy in 2018 to make use of its untapped potential in the thriving e-commerce industry.
The e-commerce websites, in line with the policy, must follow a certain guidelines to ensure consumers rights, safer mobile payment and digital transactions.
It also promised that the code of conducts must be followed in designing websites, ensuring consumers rights, have respect for copyright and net neutrality and digital rights. The policy’s prime objective was to create a sustainable job market for Bangladeshi youths taking the advantage of the technological improvement.
As a result of the under government’s patronization, an e-commerce industry has been gradually taking shape in Bangladesh despite the fact that there are few loopholes in the regulations, and practices by a section of unscrupulous businesses.
It is expected that the e-commerce industry would thrive in Bangladesh, having a market of more than 160 million population, shortly provided that the regulators ensure an atmosphere conducive for investment in this particular field.
A sudden order for confiscating one’s bank account would transmit wrong message among the people as the BB did in the case of Md Rasel and Shamima Nasrin, the managing director and the chairman of the E-Valy, platform. The Banking Regulator on Thursday asked all commercial banks to freeze their accounts for 30 days.
Such and order will certainly scare people and drive them away from the habit of online purchasing in Bangladesh, a country where trust is eroding, and in the long run may turn obstacle for the growth of the industry.
The government has other mechanisms to address wrongs, if any, in any particular sectors. And can apply those ensuring that actions by concerned authorities would not harm the progress of an entire industry.
There must always be a central monitoring system on the e-commerce sites so that the investors, job-holders and the clients follow set guidelines judiciously. The people’s interest must be upheld first.
We can remember the case of controversial Destiny Group, which has allegedly embezzled over 40 billion taka extracted from its 4.5 million clients through a model of Multi Level Marketing.
None of the clients, who had deposited the amount, receive a single penny after law enforcers arrested Rafiqul Amin, the head of the group, eight years ago. The government must devise mechanisms so that the victims of such fraudulence get paid and the perpetrators are punished.
Amin was sentenced to three years in jail over not submitting wealth statement, but the other cases are still pending. He is not the loser in financial term rather his clients have become victims.
It is wrong to punish innocent people trying to make an honest living.
If we consider the case of the graft in the country’s health sector over COVID-19, then we find that those who fell sick or even died due to the use of wrong masks and polluted oxygen are the victims due to lack of serious monitoring.
Those who have indeed amassed illegal wealth at the cost of people miseries have stashed away their funds in secret places.
Thus, it is imperative that the concerned authorities must monitor all the sectors judiciously not only to save the innocent victims, but also lessen scope for corrupt practices.
Any scandal tarnished the image of the government and that must not be allowed to happen when monitors sleep over incidents, but reacting only when the media raises questions.
The information the media uses could be true or motivated. Is E-valy a victim of rivals remains a question until the probe is over.
Until the facts come out what happens to the innocent investors is the most important issue at hand now. One hopes the authorities concerned would take steps respecting the livelihood of the innocent investors.