In about-face, Vietnam considers legalizing Uber taxi

By Mai Ha - Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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A passenger holds a smartphone displaying the Uber app as they sit in a taxi in Berlin, Germany on November 24. Photo credit: Bloomberg A passenger holds a smartphone displaying the Uber app as they sit in a taxi in Berlin, Germany on November 24. Photo credit: Bloomberg

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The Transport Ministry has instructed relevant agencies to work with a controversial San Francisco-based ride-sharing firm to create a legal framework for its operation in Vietnam.
The move came after Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said his ministry would consider legalizing Uber in a surprising twist.
Thang's deputy had declared the firm's operations illegal and called for a mass crackdown on Uber the day before.
According to Khuat Viet Hung, deputy chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee and a senior advisor to the government on traffic policies, Uber must to register its operations in Vietnam.
“Because the company generates revenue in Vietnam… Uber’s representatives should register the business in accordance with Vietnamese law, to protect their relevant rights,” he said.
According to Hung, cars providing transportation services through Uber must also register to ensure the rights of passengers--including the right to insurance.
Luong Hoai Nam, an expert who studied Uber-like models abroad, also will have to register their business and pay relevant taxes.
“Management agencies have to decide what category the service belongs in so they can impose taxes and enforce relevant regulations,” he said.
Nam said Uber should not be considered a taxi service but a new kind of transportation business that requires updated regulations.
“To ensure fair competition and legalize Uber, the government should issue regulations on its operations and impose taxes,” he said.
Meanwhile, a leader at the General Department of Taxation said that Uber is a new form of online transaction in Vietnam.
“But basically, taxes will be imposed under regulations on online transactions,” he said, adding that his agency will announce further details on the issue soon.
Facing new competitors in the sector, Ho Huy, chairman of the Mai Linh Corporation that supplies taxi services, said he'd have no complaints if Uber operated legally by registering and paying taxes.
“Mai Linh will offer even better technology than Uber," he said pledging to create a locally-made interface that accepts payment through a variety of credit and debit cards--Uber accepts Visa.
According to Bloomberg, Uber began operating in Vietnam on July 31 and has extended operations to more than 200 cities since its founding in 2009. It is currently engaged in legal battles in several countries, including Germany, due to complaints about unfair competition and a lack of customer protections.
The city of Oslo reported the company to the police for operating without proper permits and Toronto has also asked a court to shut down Uber, the newswire said.

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