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Minister announces legal basis for platforms like Uber

Ljubljana, 13 July (STA) - The Infrastructure Ministry is drawing up legislative changes that will allow ride hailing services through a digital platform in the manner provided for instance by US giant Uber, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec told parliament on Monday. He expects the government will discuss the proposal in the autumn.

The confirmation of what is the third attempt at adopting such legislation after 2017 and 2018 was made as Vrtovec was quizzed by the opposition Left's Miha Kordiš about his announcement to this effect made during a TV appearance at the end of May.

Kordiš said the minister was trying to bring in "one of the most shameless, exploitative corporations, known for undermining workers' rights, for unfair competition and tax evasion".

The MP added Uber did not employ any of its drivers, provided no labour rights, no basic working condition, no means for work. Kordiš asked Vrtovec to explain how the ministry planned to make sure Uber would be treated the same in terms of taxes as other transport providers.

The minister argued the ministry wanted to improve people's mobility and that Uber was only one of the apps in the world working towards this goal.

"By introducing ride hailing services the state would definitely improve mobility, in particular in areas where taxi rides are hard to access and public transport is lacking," Vrtovec said.

He said the solution to be discussed by the government in the autumn will have "all the components allowing us to prevent for instance unfair competition, different types of abuse of drivers, provide insurance for drivers and passengers, meaning there will be no undeclared work and non-payment of taxes; thus controls will be in place over transactions, which is what digitalisation is about".

Kordiš disagreed, arguing digitalisation was not what Uber was about. Instead, it is about "being even more tyrannical towards its drivers, even more exploitative of the tax systems of the countries it is operating in than everybody else".

"Uber could already come to Slovenia today if it was ready to provide taxi service under the same conditions as all other providers. Full stop. But it does not. The legislation you are drawing up is nothing but full-out deregulation of taxi service," Kordiš added.

The minister reiterated that there must be no abuse of labour or tax legislation and that different inspection services needed to prevent this.

Kordiš proposed that the National Asselby hold a general debate on the matter. The proposal will be voted on on Tuesday.

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