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Costa Rican Businessmen Close Ranks In Favor of Uber

“The government’s decision is not only arbitrary but also reprehensible and without legal support,” said Rogelio Fernández, a lawyer with the Asociación de Consumidores Libres (Free Consumers Association). Esteban Monge / The RepublicA

Q COSTA RICA – Instead of pursuing the Uber drivers and businesses with promotions linked to Uber, the Government should regulate the new technologies in public transport, considers the private sector, that has closed ranks in favor of the app.

In this way, not only new sources of employment would be created, but also the government would have the possibility of charging more taxes and, incidentally, oxygenate the weak pension system (IVM) of Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) or Caja.

The move would also mean the country would be protecting its image as a commercial and tourism destination, which is at risk because of the decision of the government of Luis Guillermo Solis to impose a hefty fine on companies that do business with Uber.

The measure to sanction businesses, as released last week by the Ministry of the Economy (MEIC), covers restaurants, retail stores, hotels, banks and others, by prohibiting any type of promotional link with Uber, such as discounts, gifts or a free trip for every x paid with a certain bank card, or a discount for attending an event or trade show, to users of the Uber app.

“The government is mistaken in defending a guild (the formal taxi drivers). On one occasion, President Solis asked Costa Ricans to give him a call when he was wrong, now I do. Nowhere in the world, except in totalitarian countries is innovation prohibited,” Gustavo Araya, CEO of Wyndham and Hard Rock Cafe, told La Republica.

Currently, there are about 16,000 registered Uber drivers,  of which 57% are women, while more than 600,000 people in Costa Rica who have downloaded the application.

In addition, there are other ‘collaborative mobility’ options in the market such as Nova Transportes that started on the 16th of this month and in six hours of operation, managed to move about 500 people in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) of San Jose.

The national option, Nova, entered the market with more than 4,000 registered drivers within the GAM and in remote areas such as Guanacaste, San Carlos, Perez Zeledon and Limón.

The government’s decision to intensify operations against Uber drivers and businesses linking to Uber is bowing down to pressure by the official (red) taxis with some 13,000 drivers.

For its part, Uber has once again made a call on the government and legislators, to discuss as soon as possible legislation that regulates the service of collaborative mobility in Costa Rica.

This week, Franklin Corella, legislator for the Partido Accion Cuidadana – PAC – (the ruling party) asked Solís to add the bill that he presented last year on this issue, to the legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, the presidential candidates for Liberación Nacional (PLN), the PUSC, el Movimiento Libertario, the Frente Amplio, the PIN and the PAC have asked the president to discuss the issue and not let the matter drag on any longer than it needs to.