The inter-ministerial committee on e-commerce has submitted its report to the Cabinet Division without suggesting ways of refunding customers Tk726 crore stuck in payment gateways and frozen bank accounts of errant e-commerce companies.
However, the committee has suggested enacting a new law and forming an independent authority to streamline the e-commerce sector.
"We have not made any specific recommendation over retrieving customers' money as we did not get an opinion in this connection from the law ministry that we sought earlier," Mohammad Saeed Ali, member secretary of the committee and deputy secretary to Central Digital Commerce Cell, told The Business Standard on Thursday.
"We were supposed to submit the report by Thursday and we did it," he added.
Currently, Tk214 crore has remained stuck in various payment gateways and the remaining Tk512 crore in frozen bank accounts of the e-commerce companies.
After the introduction of the escrow system on 30 June, customers paid around Tk506 crore in advance through payment gateways against products and services they ordered till 14 October.
The payment gateways released around Tk291 crore to e-commerce companies against their deliveries, while around Tk2,014 crore remained stuck in SSLCOMMERZ, shurjoPay, Foster Corporation, bKash, Nagad and Southeast Bank.
Earlier on 25 October, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said Tk214 crore stuck in payment gateways would be returned to customers within three months. The Bangladesh Bank would finalise the refund process.
Later, the central bank sought the opinion of the commerce ministry on refunding customers by the e-commerce companies with pending cases filed against them.
Last week, the commerce ministry sent a letter to the law ministry, seeking its opinion on refunding customers without facing any legal complications.