NEW DELHI : The government is planning to convert the Government e-Marketplace, or GeM, into a public limited company, unlock its value and prepare it for the next phase of growth.

The move comes ahead of plans to allow private entities to bulk-buy on GeM, a non-profit Section-8 company, which would bring it in partial competition with private e-commerce players.

“There is some thinking within the government to change GeM from a Section 8 company to a public limited company. This could lead to further growth of GeM because it would change the objectives of the platform. I can’t talk much about it because the decision needs to be taken elsewhere," GeM chief executive officer Talleen Kumar said.

However, Kumar said to allow bulk purchases by government contractors as well as private entities, the character of the platform need not be changed.

“We have floated a draft cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultation for allowing private players to make bulk purchases on the platform," he added.

Currently, Walmart India carries out business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce through its best-price portal, while Amazon India also has a B2B selling programme.

GeM, which replaced the public procurement agency, Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), in 2017, deploys technology to completely automate the procurement processes and systems, introducing greater accountability in the process. Most states now purchase laptops, car rental services, and medicines for anganwadis using the GeM platform to ensure transparency and savings.

GeM currently has around 300,000 registered sellers and service providers on its platform, selling 1.4 million types of products and around 19,000 services. The total transactions on the platform by 40,000 organizations have been over 37,000 crore. MSMEs constitute 20% of the sellers on GeM and contribute more than 40% of the transaction value.

“GeM is working on a robust online seller and buyer rating mechanisms, which will allow sellers to avail working capital loans, where the cost of capital is linked to the performance and rating of sellers. This will also help buyers to procure from highly rated sellers in critical areas of procurement," Kumar said.

The platform is also planning to bring on board India’s traditional artisans and craftsmen, and will help them with logistics, standardization of products and for easier access to working capital.

While payments on the platform have so far been settled on an average of 23 days, GeM is working to cut this to 10 days. For around 220 public sector undertakings, GeM automatically blocks the payment amount in the account after they make a purchase on the platform, leading to faster payments to sellers.

Government agencies can purchase directly without any tender or bidding on the platform for items of up to 25,000, while for larger purchases buyers invite competitive bids from sellers leading to a lower prices.

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