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Monday, 26 March 2018

Only the government is truly happy with the Ride-Hailing Apps Act

LEGISLATION WATCH- One thing we learned from the ‘national dialogue’ on the Ride-Hailing Apps Act: Only the government is really happy with it. The Support Egypt Coalition led what it calls a national dialogue on the Ride-Hailing Apps Act on Sunday, bringing together MPs, government officials and representatives from the companies. The general consensus of the meeting appears to be that while the law is a good start, much more needs to be done. The event came as the government rushes to legalize ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Careem, whose licenses were put at risk by a ruling from the Administrative Court favoring taxi drivers.

The government line: The Ride-Hailing Apps Act is key, if only because it’s the state’s first to attempt to regulate the sharing economy, Investment Minister Sahar Nasr said, according to Al Shorouk. Passing the bill is in the public interest: It helps create jobs and complements the government’s development strategy, she added. The government is developing new cities and is keen to develop reliable public transportation systems in cooperation with the private sector, Nasr noted.

Nasr also may have thrown a dig at grandstanding MPs when she says that the law has been through a number of committees in the House and the government and their input has been taken into consideration.

The companies get their say: Careem’s public relations director, Dalia El Nasr, showed the flag for the private sector, according to the newspaper. She called for moderate pricing of licenses under the act, a justifiable complaint considering reports that permits to drive for a ride-sharing service could cost 125% more than taxi licenses do (which, frankly, is just insane). Ride-sharing apps should also be exempted from having to prove to regulators that all of their divers are insured, a requirement El Nasr says would be logistically difficult for a multinational with some 100k drivers. (On this: Give us a break. Proof of insurance should be a basic, as it is in every jurisdiction in the world that we can think of). Overall, El Nasr is pushing for a looser, more lenient regulatory framework

The House wants to appease taxis—and collect your data: MPs positively slobbered as they looked to score points with taxi drivers, criticizing a bill they themselves helped draft. “[Ride-hailing] companies have harmed regular taxi drivers who pay taxes and license fees to the state,” said House Transport Committee deputy chair Mohamed Zain, according to Al Masry Al Youm. (Find us a taxi driver who pays taxes on his earnings driving a cab and we’ll find you the sole living saint in Egypt.) Zain also pushed for the law to guarantee that companies open user data to the government and store that data in Egypt — a feature of the law first revealed by the NYT’s Declan Walsh last year. The head of the House ICT Committee, Nidal El Saeed, supported those articles, but called for them to be slightly loosened. He did, however, double down on support for taxi drivers, calling for a referendum on the law be put to them, Al Shorouk reports.

Brilliant. Let’s pass the democratic process to a group whose interests are in no way threatened by this bill. That’s the mature way to do it…

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