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Thursday, 11 August 2016

House CIT committee deserves award for dumbassery in Uber probe

And the International Award for Outstanding Excellence in the Field of Parliamentary Dumbassery Goes To… The House’s ICT committee wants to draft a law that would set a taxation framework in Egypt for ride-hailing apps such as Careem and Uber. As we noted last week, Uber does not pay taxes in Egypt due to an international treaty on avoiding double taxation in place between Egypt and the Netherlands. And you know what? The House may have a point there, frankly: Companies rendering services in Egypt using Egyptians driving Egypt-registered cars should — morally, at least — be subject to tax in Egypt.

Then (and with apologies to Mr. Shakespeare): Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of dumbassery. The rare display of parliamentary intelligence ends there. The committee also wants to tell Uber and Careem how to run their businesses, Al Mal reports, quoting a committee member as saying surge pricing should be scrapped, while the fee charged to users who cancel a ride request is “illegal.” It doesn’t end there: The committee also recommended that Uber and Careem find a way of incorporating taxi drivers into their companies on the grounds that it’s illegal to provide livery services with private cars. (That may be true, but what’s next? Will the committee take off the streets the tens of 1000s of unlicensed gypsy cabs — or “collective service taxis” — that serve low-income earners?)

Uber’s representative reminded the committee that drivers pay income tax in Egypt (lame, at best) and said surge pricing exists to get more drivers on the road at peak times (entirely Uber’s business).

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