Thu, Jul 14, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Uber dominates committee talks

MARKETS:The Ministry of Transportation and Communications plans to launch an app similar to that of Uber to help the nation’s taxi drivers, much like one in Japan

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Discussions over the ride-sharing app Uber yesterday dominated the question-and-answer session of a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, with the lawmakers asking the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to be more assertive in its efforts to curb the company’s business in Taiwan.

The government cannot seem find an effective way to stop Uber from expanding in Taiwan, and the frustration over the government’s failure has led legal taxi operators to stage street protests for the second time, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said.

Taxi drivers in other nations have taken aggressive actions to show their anger toward Uber, and Taiwanese cab drivers are proving no exception, he said.

Consumers use the service offered by the drivers recruited by Uber, but Uber Taiwan has not paid taxes on the revenue it has earned by offering taxi services over the past three years, the lawmaker said.

The company paid NT$1 million (US$31,072) in tax to the government last year, although its revenue was estimated at more than NT$20 million, Cheng said.

“The income the company receives from each Uber driver — 25 percent of the fare — goes to the company’s headquarters in the Netherlands, not Uber’s account in Taiwan. There is no way that the company has only earned NT$20 million in revenue,” he said.

The ministry needs to deal with the company directly instead of focusing its crack down on Uber drivers.

DPP Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said that the comany is registered as an information service provider, not transport service provider.

While Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) has a plan to roll out an application similar to Uber’s within two months, the ministry needs to make sure the app is actually going to help the nation’s taxi drivers, Cheng Pao-ching said.

Uber has had trouble penetrating the Japanese market because the government developed its own app, Cheng Pao-ching said.

DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) asked how the ministry can protect Uber passengers in case of an accident or dispute since Uber claims that all its drivers have insurance to cover such instances, but has never disclosed details of the insurance policies.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Hsuan-sheng (陳雪生) said that taxi drivers were upset by Hochen’s comment on Tuesday that the ministry does not want to totally eliminate Uber.

More than 1,000 taxi drivers are reportedly planning to take part in a protest outside the Legislative Yuan on Aug. 11, parking around the building and threatening to paralyze city traffic by having 300 to 500 drivers drive slowly or fake traffic accidents, Chen said.

Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Frank Fan (范植谷) told lawmakers that the government would continue its efforts to crack down on illegal taxi services offered by Uber Taiwan and its drivers.

Directorate General of Highways statistics show that the company and its drivers have accumulated NT$62.27 million in fines.

The Investment Commission on Monday said it would consider revoking Uber Taiwan’s business license if the MOTC submits evidence that the company is offering a transportation service instead of an information management service.

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