Saeima goes ahead on rideshare amendments

Following heated and lengthy debate, on Thursday Latvia's parliament supported amendments regulating rideshare services in the first, non-final reading.

Presenting the amendments, MP Edvards Smiltēns (Unity) said that ridesharing marks a paradigm shift in business as more and more people participate in the sharing economy, which allows people to earn extra income and amounts to entrepreneurship of a new kind.

He said that ridesharing will increase tax collection as people pay for these services with credit, so money flow becomes visible and controllable. He said that 80% of the taxi industry is currently working in the shadow economy.

While Vilnis Ķirsis (Unity) said that "this matter shows fundamentally that we're ready to go along with the times".

Opposition MP Ivars Zariņš (Harmony) criticized the amendments as not addressing the problem of illegal carriers across Latvia. "Your approach is childish and narrow," he said.

The amendments were supported in the first reading with 57 votes cast 'for', 2 'against' and 22 not voting at all.

Previously a memorandum for understanding was signed between the Economics Ministry and ridesharing service providers Uber and Taxify. 

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