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Tbilisi City Hall Working on a System of Licensing Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

Tbilisi City Hall begins work on the introduction of a new system of licensing  taxi drivers – a special group will include representatives from several city services. The information about the planned regulations is not available, since the working group does  not have  currently specific plans, in addition, it is not clear exactly when the group starts working.

Under the current legislation, a privatehire vehicles sector is not regulated, which means that anyone who has a car can become a taxi driver without any license and without paying taxes.

The need for licensing taxis was  considered under the previous government, in particular, the introduction of an annual permit fee in the amount of $ 1 000. However, specific decisions were not made, and the initiative has remained at the level of ideas.

What are the pros and cons of possible regulations?

According to the expert Levan Kalandadze, on the one hand, the licensing is necessary, as taxi drivers who are actively working don’t pay any  taxes – licensing could change this practice.

“Today, anyone can become a taxi driver and at the same time does not pay any taxes. Furthermore, safety of passengers is not protected,  cars often do not meet minimum standards. But there is another side of the issue – a way this reform will be carried out.  We have a very bad experience in this sense. Everything where the local government interferes, immediately turns into a monopoly. Suddenly  emerges  a specific entity that receives the exclusive rights, and ultimately the consumer suffers. So when developing regulations, everything  must be well thought out, “- he says.

The  expert believes that  the difficult social situation of citizens in the country should also be  taken into account, as private  hire vehicles  allow many  people to make a living.

“In all countries, this type of activity is regulated by law, all taxi drivers pay taxes – either individually or as part of a company they cooperate with.  The state also applies the principle of lots – that is, the local authorities determine how much taxis a city needs and distribute quotas between different companies,” – Levan Kalandadze adds.

Companies  as well as some individual taxi drivers operating in the city are not opposed to  licensing.

According to the manager at  “Elite Taxi” Levan Gagunashvili, the introduction of a licensing system is necessary to organize this sphere, both in terms of tax administration and increase the quality of service.

At the same time, in his opinion, licensing will increase prices for taxi services.

Some individual taxi drivers hail   the introduction of  licensing as well,  they  are confident they will be able to obtain a permit, and their competitors – not.
“70% of drivers will not obtain a license. Most of them go by cars that were released before 2004, their condition is unsatisfactory. There is also the problem of dirt and unsanitary conditions, “- say the more successful private taxi drivers.

Others, less fortunate, believe that today Georgia is not ready for licensing.

“Most of the cars do not meet the standards. Because of this, the drivers will lost the minimum income that they now have, “- they say.