The Economic Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday introduced a new bill that seeks to regulate ride-sharing platforms such as Uber.
The proposal “seeks to balance conditions between transport service providers and offer benefits for taxi drivers,” according to Robert Thompson, president of the committee.
Among the main points of the bill is a provision that applies the 13% value-added tax to ride-sharing platform users. Taxis would not be taxed because they are a public service.
Uber drivers would also be obligated to pay an annual right of operation fee, enroll as contributing taxpayers before the Finance Ministry, contribute to social security as independent workers, and have full coverage insurance.
Ride-hailing platforms such as Uber would owe a registration fee of 20 base salaries (approximately $15,500), which would be renewed every four years with an additional cost of 10 base salaries.
Meanwhile, taxi drivers with newer vehicles would be subject to fewer inspections, and taxi fares would be subject to negotiation with riders — with the price on the meter serving as the maximum fare.
“This text seeks to provide a solution and a comprehensive approach to the socio-economic problems faced by taxi drivers, as well as provide security to both drivers and users of technological platforms,” a statement from Thompson reads.
The Economic Affairs Committee hopes to fast-track the bill (21.587) into law, a process which involves introducing it to the full Legislative Assembly for debates.
The proposal is yet another step toward regulating Uber, which has operated with tenuous legality in Costa Rica since August 2015.
Taxi drivers have frequently protested against Uber and similar platforms, saying they undercut businesses through unregulated operations. The government of President Carlos Alvarado introduced in January a bill that would have taxed Uber, but it was rejected.
“We believe that there should be a regularization that is prompt, that creates balance in the market, that can generate the conditions of compensation,” President Alvarado said in September. “We all agree that we want a bill that improves conditions for the benefit of families.”