- 26 Jul 2016 9:00 AM
The operative director for Uber’s business in Hungary, Zoltán Fekete (pictured), says Uber, which has around 1,200 drivers in Budapest, will look into what other types of services it could offer in the capital.
Uber’s announcement last week of the suspension came in response to government legislation that the company says makes it impossible for it to operate. Fekete said that under the legislation entering into force this month, Uber drivers could have their driving licences revoked and their car number plates removed even if they have all the permits required to provide their service.
He said Uber had been pursuing dialogue with policy makers from the start of their dispute with the government. The company had made several proposals but there had been no openness and willingness expressed by policy makers to address them, he asserted.
Fekete said the company had complied with all of the sector’s regulations: Uber drivers had obtained tax numbers allowing them to provide an invoice after every trip and had secured permits from the transportation authority.
Owners whose cars had not passed the extensive inspections prescribed by the regulations had not been allowed to operate as Uber drivers.
Parliament approved legislation in June allowing local authorities to block for up to 365 days the websites of companies that offer illegal taxi services. The law followed months of protests against Uber by Budapest taxi drivers who had been demanding that the government ensure a level playing field in the passenger transport market.
Fekete said the banning or blocking of so-called sharing economy services was unacceptable under the recently published European Commission guidelines aimed at helping member states apply EU laws to such companies. He noted that Finland, Romania, Lithuania and Estonia had all recently introduced regulations for sharing economy companies that are compatible with their legal systems.
Uber had served about 160,000 customers in Budapest, most of them 20- to 35-year-olds, he added.
The Ministry for National Development said it “acknowledges Uber’s decision to leave Hungary rather than to agree to operate legally and compete fairly on the market with tax-paying Hungarian taxi drivers and to pay taxes itself.
“The government supports innovative solutions but is committed to ensuring that players on the passenger transport market operate according to the law and pay taxes under equal terms.
“Uber acquired an edge over other market competitors by dodging taxes and disregarding rules and regulations,” the ministry alleged.
Source: The Budapest Times
Republished with permission