GRTU worried e-mall project will harm small businesses
The GRTU has expressed concerns that government plans to set up an e-mall will not serve to help small retailers, as originally envisaged, but will actually widen the gap between them and bigger businesses.
The chamber said it has written to Austin Gatt , the minister responsible for IT, saying that it is not happy with the way the whole Trolley Mania electronic mall project is moving.
The mall was originally aimed at providing an inexpensive platform for small retailers to advertise and sell their products online and to give them an opportunity to try out electronic commerce.
The GRTU said it had initially been told that the project would “support the mummy and daddy store round the corner and enable them to compete with the bigger store that has more means”.
"They told us it would provide the small retailer with a means to cheaply set up an electronic commerce front end and benefit from a shared online payment system as well as a shared delivery system."
The GRTU said the construction of the internet engine and website was awarded by public tender to one company and the tender included a substantial sum of money to cover advertising costs for the first year of operation. The contractor was given discretion on how to use these funds.
Participants in the scheme will be required to pay an enrollment fee to the contractor and a yearly premium.
The GRTU said that, In principle, it was not against the idea.
"However from what we have seen till now, we seriously doubt that it is going to achieve its original goals."
The GRTU said it had drawn up proposals in order to turn the current situation into a positive one for the smaller businesses. It is calling for a meeting to discuss its report and make amends to the current system.