Lawmakers finalize legal revision to raise fines on Uber

The Legislative Yuan on Friday finalized a proposed amendment to the Highway Act targeting ride-sharing company Uber by raising the maximum fine for the provision of illegal passenger transportation services to NT$25 million (US$782,901).

Under the bill, the maximum fine on operators of illegal transportation services will be raised from its current level of between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000 to between NT$100,000 and NT$25 million.

The bill also stipulates that operators who violate the law could be forced to shut down their business and establishes a reward system to encourage the reporting of illegal practices.

In addition, the amendment states that those caught driving for a ride-sharing company will have both their vehicle registration and driving license suspended for four to 12 months, or terminated.

Under the new bill, once a vehicle registration or driving license is terminated, a new one cannot be obtained for a period of two years.

Vice Transportation and Communications Minister Wang Kuo-tsai (王國材) said earlier this month that the amendment is not intended to force the company out of Taiwan, but to encourage it to comply with the law.

However, different opinions have also been voiced.

According to Taiwan Business TOPICS, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, denying the ride-sharing economy being introduced by Uber could be “detrimental for Taiwan’s industrial-transformation ambitions.”

Uber was registered in Taiwan four years ago as an information services company, but local taxi drivers have accused the firm of illegally operating ride-sharing services. It has more than 10,000 drivers locally and its app has been downloaded 1 million times in Taiwan.

The government has imposed multiple fines on Uber, whose ride-sharing service is illegal in Taiwan, but the company has ignored appeals by the authorities and continues to operate its business, triggering major protests by taxi drivers who have accused Uber drivers of not paying taxes on the income they earn, unlike licensed cab drivers.

According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, as of Friday, Uber has been fined a total of NT$66.05 million for 465 violations and Uber drivers have been fined NT$20.028 million.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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