White Paper on SA's E-commerce Set for January
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[Cape Town] - Legislation regulating e-commerce in this country is expected to be passed in the first quarter of next year, following the expected release of the White Paper in January, Communications Director-General Andile Ngcaba announced yesterday in Parliament. Ngcaba revealed that an E-commerce Green Paper should be released for comment in August this year, leading to the drawing-up of the White Paper.
Speaking to the Public Accounts standing committee in Cape Town, Ngcaba stressed that to rush a bill through parliament would be foolhardy considering that officials charged with regulating the industry needed to be first extensively briefed about the changing face of online commerce. "People need to be educated about all these issues," he commented, adding that e-commerce presents both problems and opportunities for government.
The Green Paper is expected to cover issues such as e-commerce taxation, intellectual property issues, e-procurement, encryption and the impact of online commerce on existing "brick and mortar" enterprises. Speculation is rife amongst industry stakeholders as to whether the government will be treating these issues as "problems" or "opportunities", especially when it comes to the contentious issue of Internet taxation.
Ngcaba yesterday stressed the importance of a comprehensive regulatory framework especially in the area of electronic procurement. He cited the fact that the state itself spends R65-billion a year in procuring goods and services, a large portion of which is expected to be moved online, as evidence of the need for a watertight regulatory system. The discussion document was released earlier this year setting out the issues and eliciting public comment.