Taiwan targets Uber with record-level fines under new regs

REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Uber Technologies said it was disappointed Taiwan’s legislature had passed a regulation that will raise fines sharply on unlicensed ride-sharing services to the highest level for such fines globally.

The Legislative Yuan finalised an amendment bill on Friday targeting Uber by raising the maximum fine for illegal passenger transportation services to up to T$25 million ($780,000) from between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000.

The move marks the latest clash in the stand-off between the Taiwan government and the global ride-sharing firm, which urged Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in November to let the island’s people decide whether they want its services in Taiwan.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, citing the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Uber has been fined a total of NT$66.05 million for 465 violations and Uber drivers have been fined NT$20.028 million. Many Uber drivers in Taiwan are not licensed.

Taiwan’s cabinet has said policymakers had reached a consensus on raising potential fines that would affect Uber’s operations in Taiwan from current levels of at most T$150,000 to as much as T$25 million.

While similar fines have been imposed on ride-sharing services in other countries, the fines to be imposed by Taiwan’s legislation would be the highest in the world.

“This was a rushed decision, taken without consultation,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement issued late on Friday.

“We are very disappointed to see the Legislative Yuan pass the amendment bill raising fines against driver-partners on the Uber app to the largest anywhere in the world.”

“We will continue to seek a constructive conversation with the Taiwanese government to ensure Taiwan gets the full benefits that ridesharing brings to riders, drivers and cities. We will also study the legislation before deciding on our next steps,” it said.

Provisions of the law, which is expected to be effective next year, could force operators in violation to shut down their business, and establish a reward system to provide incentive to report violations.

Uber will seek to work with Taiwan’s government towards a regulatory environment that will allow ride-sharing to flourish, David Plouffe, Uber’s senior vice president of policy and strategy, said in an interview during a visit to Taipei.

(Reporting by Faith Hung)

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