Today the Economic Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) decided by consensus to send the bill regulating ridesharing service, or on-demand ridesharing, to the first reading at the plenary sitting of the Riigikogu on 19 April.
The members of the Economic Affairs Committee supported the legalisation of on-demand ridesharing, but as it is the first bill in the area of sharing economy, it was decided to continue discussing the principles of the bill and to be open to proposals for amendments.
The Committee reached the position that the law should make a distinction between professional taxi drivers and the drivers providing ridesharing services, and differentiate their rights and obligations. The possibility of establishing a simpler form of economic activity for ridesharers, e.g. micro-undertaking, or amending the regulation on self-employed persons in the Commercial Code was also considered.
In the opinion of Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee Toomas Kivimägi, ridesharing and taxi services are so different that complete unification of the standards of both services at the level of law is not justified. “Ridesharing already exists on the market today, and it will not be prohibited by any decision. The issue is rather whether or not we should regulate it at the level of law. It would be reasonable to legalise it, in order to ensure the quality of service and regulate the requirements for electronic platforms,” Kivimägi said.
On 25 February, 26 members of the Riigikogu initiated the Bill on Amendments to the Public Transport Act (188 SE) with the purpose of establishing minimum requirements to the providers of ridesharing services and the system of electronic ridesharing. When the Bill was prepared, it was taken into account that ridesharing should as much as possible take place without the interference of the state and in accordance with the market conditions.
The initiator if the Bill, member of the Economic Affairs Committee Kalle Palling said that ridesharing was a combined information society and transport service where the user could find out the cost of the ride through electronic platform before the ride started. “Regulation of ridesharing will create a possibility for people to earn additional income. The state must create a regulation to support the enterprisingness of people, regulate the services, protect the consumers and collect the taxes,” Palling said.
In the opinion of member of the Economic Affairs Committee Erki Savisaar, it is important to regulate the issues related to electronic platforms and taxation. “Any programme or app can be made to cheat, and in order to avoid that, requirements have to be established for electronic platforms. The possessor of the platform could be an Estonian enterprise, so that taxation issues would be under control,” Savisaar said.
The Government has in principle supported the Bill. Today the Economic Affairs Committee discussed the Bill with the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Finance and the Tax and Customs Board. The Economic Affairs Committee plans to continue the discussions on the legalisation of ridesharing by involving the interest groups and government agencies. The deadline for motions to amend the Bill is 10 May.
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