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COTAR accuses Gov't of creating tax haven for ridesharing apps

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea
protest transportatori taxi cotar

The government is creating a tax haven for ridesharing companies that siphon money out of the country, and under these circumstances some taxi drivers consider going on hunger strike, president of the Confederation of Licensed Romanian Operators and Hauliers (COTAR) Vasile Stefanescu told AGERPRES on Wednesday.

"The reason why we gathered to protest here, in Victoriei Square is the statement made by Deputy Prime Minister Daniel Suciu, whereby he takes sole responsibility for an emergency ordinance that legalizes piracy in Romania. We have nothing to comment with regard to ousting an entity from Romania, but we want fair competition. For us, fair competition means a single law for the same activity, not a legal framework that is separate from ours, like a tax haven created just for some; this should mean including a separate chapter in Law No. 38 on taxi and hire services to also cover these gentlemen, impose some restrictions, have the same licensing, activity, control and taxation criteria for all. That's when we can consider that we have fair competition," Vasile Stefanescu said.

He accused ridesharing applications of practicing unfair competition.

"This ordinance will legalize a platform, like for instance Bla Bla Car. Bla Bla Car provides unlicensed inter-county transport services. Some journalists have gotten it wrong, that we don't want competition. We do want competition, but fair, not as some people at rule would want it, who yield to the pressure of certain embassies and allow these guys to further carry out their activity and siphon money off the country. It's not normal to allow - through this ordinance - that money be taken out of the country to the Netherlands, where a smart alecky tax of 25-30 pct is charged, when you are nothing more than a simple platform, you do not even have cars, you have nothing, you just use the lowbrows in the country. It's not fair," said the COTAR president.

He announced in this context that the protesters are making hunger striker lists and asked the government to confiscate the money cashed by ridesharing companies.

"Mr. Deputy PM Suciu, these entities have stated in the media that they have been operating in Romania for 4 years. Mr. Deputy PM, enforce the law: according to Romanian law, if someone performs an unlicensed activity, all the money shall be seized! So far we haven't been able to sit down with the government, to hammer out a law for us, yet these entities have access to the government today and discuss this law they want to pass via emergency ordinance," added Vasile Stefanescu.

Hundreds of taxis gathered on Wednesday in Victoriei Square in a protest organized by COTAR against the government's plan to issue an emergency ordinance which - according to the protesters - would maintain piracy in the sector. In the last month carriers have organized several protests in Bucharest, accusing piracy in the sector.

On the other hand, the representatives of ridesharing companies and apps Uber and Clever said it's the customer's right to choose his transport options, pointing also out that many taxi drivers are already using the applications.

COTAR's request to have transport apps removed from the market shows fear of technological advancement, modernization and competition, out of the need to preserve a monopolistic system that completely ignores the needs of passengers, Clever said in a Wednesday statement.



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