Road Transport Act shall be amended to suit new trends

Transport Ministry wants to respond to recent trends (Uber, Taxify, Liftago, or Hopin) as they have already become popular among the public – and not just by banning them from Slovakia. De-regulation and new options instead of toughening rules is the optimum process.

(Source: AP/SITA)

The draft amendment to the Road Transport Act strives to create more suitable business conditions and adopt measures to prevent any illegal taxi business. The Transport Ministry, which has already submitted the draft amendment for an inter-departmental review, wants to ensure more effective control in this area. It also responds to new trends and supports the use of digital platforms in passenger transport, such as Uber, Taxify, Liftago, or Hopin.

Due to the Road Transport Act of 2012, a license and the fulfilment of several conditions are necessary to operate a taxi service, the SITA newswire wrote on June 26. However, according to the Transport Ministry, practical life has shown that some conditions need to be revised, and particularly in the case of the illegal operation of a taxi service, control mechanisms are very poor.

The conditions are to be changed and simplified so as to avoid illegal business in this field as much as possible. The ministry has decided to support the liberalisation of taxi services after meetings with promoters of digital platforms and representatives of traditional taxi services.

Opposition, Uber react

The Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party criticises the Transport Ministry for arriving too late with its proposal to simplify the operation of taxi services. According to the opposition party, the ministry has woken up and has responded with its amendment to the outdated law on road transport.

The Czecho-Slovak representation of the Uber company welcomed the interest of Slovak authorities to modernise the law.

“Uber is still fully determined to renew its operation in Slovakia, and we are ready to have a discussion with all representatives of the state and public administration, as each modern city needs the broadest possible variety of options on how to travel in it,” Uber represnetaiton for the Czech and Slovak republics told SITA. “It is good to regulate services like Uber in a way enabling the use of modern technologies. Our goal is to cooperate with cities – so that reliable transport at a single click is available for virtually everyone.”

Recently, Uber appealed the verdict of the Bratislava I District Court on banning passenger transport with cars and drivers in Bratislava, which would violate the effective act on road transport.

Top ministers explain their stance

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said at the beginning of this week that once people start to like an application they want to use it regardless of what individual countries think of it or regardless of what their legislation allows. “To expel one type of business for a while from the country through legal means or with a court ruling – it will come back in another form anyway,” the PM said, as cited by the Sme daily.

Pellegrini added that he is of the same opinion as Finance Minister Peter Kažimír. The Premier noted that it is even easier to tax a digital business than a physical one. “We should go the opposite way and deregulate the spheres that currently are not allowed to come up with this innovative way of operation – instead of toughening regulation,” he opined. The PM thinks, as quoted by Sme, that the role of the cabinet is to only create a framework able to adapt very flexibly to the development of modern technologies. “A shared economy is the current trend, Uber was just the beginning I would say, and sharing accommodation is the second step,” he noted. “We face a huge boom in this, and if we operate in a reactionary manner and protect seemingly standard forms of doing business, we won’t get further,” Pellegrini summed up.

Minister Kažimír said he was not happy that Uber had – based on a court ruling – left Slovakiam but he supposes that this is just a temporary state of matters.

“But I must say also something else: we have introduced legislation that enables tax digital platforms,” he said, as cited by the daily. “I must say now that Uber does not behave in a fair way, either – as the decision-making in its headquarters is very selective.” The Finance Minister explained that the digital platform decided to make a kind of agreement with stronger countries they really care about but ignores some smaller countries. Uber's recent steps were a disappointment for Kažimír and he expects more negotiations between the Slovak state and the platform.

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