Taipei-- The U.S.-based ride-hailing company Uber accused the government Friday of inaccurately categorizing the service the company provides, leading to excessive legal restrictions that ultimately pushed it out of the Taiwan market.
Responding to demands from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications for Uber to register as a taxi service provider in Taiwan, be covered by related insurance and pay local taxes, the company issued a statement criticizing the government's insistence as "ridiculous."
"First of all, this is very simple: we are not a taxi company. That is why it is ridiculous to ask us to register as a taxi company," it said.
The only way to legalize Uber's ride-sharing services in Taiwan is to either establish a special law or relax current regulations, it claimed.
The government's mindset is like "stubbornly drinking soup with chopsticks" and "will not work," according to Uber.
Uber said a day earlier that it would suspend its ride-sharing services in Taiwan with effect from Feb. 10 as it could soon face an order from the MOTC to terminate operations.
Uber has been found guilty of 48 violations since Jan. 6, which have resulted in an estimated NT$1.1 billion (US$35.38 million) in fines, following an increase in the maximum fine for the operation of illegal passenger transportation services to NT$25 million on that date, according to the MOTC.
In its defense, Uber noted that it already has a comprehensive insurance policy, the only obstacle being the government's unwillingness to accept the ride-sharing operation model.
Without proper regulations in place, no insurance company can provide adequate coverage despite reaching a deal with the company, Uber said.
Lastly, Uber stressed that it has never tried to avoid paying tax in Taiwan, but questioned Taiwan's lack of a business tax on cross-border e-commerce operators, which it said only caused confusion and made the situation even more complicated.
According to media reports on Friday, the MOTC said it welcomes Uber's suspension of illegal operation in Taiwan, adding that its position remains unchanged.
However, the ministry said it is open to further discussions and possible cooperation with Uber, especially if the company is willing to shift its focus from urban areas to provide services in remote regions where public transportation is less convenient.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel