The Ministry of Commerce is developing an online National Logistics Portal to reduce the cost of moving goods and services across the country and the world from 14% (of India’s GDP) to 10%. The portal will handle route planning, rate comparisons, billing, digital contract signing, shipment tracking, ID verification, analytics, and more, according to a graphic circulated by the ministry.

The portal was first announced (pdf) in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech at Parliament this February. “Department of Commerce will be developing a National Logistics Portal as a single window online marketplace to link all stakeholders,” he had said then. The Commerce Ministry did not specify a timeline in which this project would be rolled out.

Government and marketplaces

The government has, of late, pitched online marketplaces as a solution to age-old issues in administration and commerce. Take the Government e-Marketplace, an online B2B portal for government departments to buy computers, water coolers and other small goods, instead of putting out a tender individually for the provision of these goods at the lowest price. This month, the portal hit the two-year mark, with a gross merchandise value (i.e., sales) of over Rs 10,000 crores. The portal is partly managed by Infibeam. The sales probably reflect only a fraction of government departments’ budgeted spend on goods and services across the country — GeM plans on reaching over Rs 2 lakh crore in sales in the coming years, according to Inc42.

In 2015, the government had also launched an employment exchange for industries, but it came with registration glitches at the time. That site aimed to link Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) with potential employees. It seems to have been discontinued, even though states are managing their own independent exchanges.