Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Uber relaunches services, cite ministry cooperation

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Uber Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown, left, and Uber Taiwan general manager Gu Li-kai hold Uber logos at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA

Uber Taiwan, the local subsidiary of Uber Technologies Inc, yesterday said it was relaunching its ride-hailing service in the nation by partnering with licensed car rental companies, ending two months of suspended operations.

“In cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, we are happy to bring Uber back in Taiwan,” Uber Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown told a news conference in Taipei.

Uber, which entered the local market in 2013 registered as an Internet technology service provider, halted its ride-hailing service on Feb. 10 after accumulating fines of NT$830 million (US$27.4 million), of which NT$235 million fines were overdue.

The ministry said that Uber’s services were illegal, as it was a transportation firm rather than an Internet technology service provider.

The National Taxation Bureau on March 15 seized Uber assets after the company failed to pay NT$50 million in taxes for 2015.

Brown said it was difficult for Uber to suspend its operations, because it slowed the company’s growth, but it was more important for the company to obey local laws.

After “constructive talks” with the ministry over the past two months, Uber changed its business model by providing its platform to licensed vehicle rental companies whose drivers have professional drivers’ licenses in a bid to operate legally, Brown said.

Brown said he hopes one day Uber can resume its ride-sharing service using its own drivers.

Uber has partnered with 10 car rental companies, with operations limited to Taipei, Uber Taiwan general manager Gu Li-kai (顧立楷) said, declining to disclose names of the firms or the number of cars available via Uber’s app.

Gu said that Uber would continue to seek more car rental firms to join its ride-hailing platform to increase the number of cars available via the app.

However, he declined to comment on whether Uber would pay the fines, saying that the issue is going through a legal process after the company applied for an administrative appeal against them.

Uber is also communicating with the Ministry of Finance and the bureau regarding the company’s tax payment, Gu said.

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