Blue Bird ups pressure on Uber, Grab
Fedina S. Sundaryani
The Jakarta Post
Publicly listed taxi operator Blue Bird will continue to push the government to order ride-hailing applications to get permits for the private cars they work with in the country.
Blue Bird director Sigit Priawan Djokosoetono told reporters on Friday that representatives of the company would meet with Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan to discuss the matter as the use of private cars as taxis by apps like Uber and Grab had created unfair competition.
Conventional taxis, which can be identified by their yellow license plates, pay regular taxes and levies to the government in order to operate as public transportation.
Although existing laws allow private cars, which bear black plates, to operate as rental cars, they must be first registered under a certain legal entity, such as a state enterprise or a cooperative.
'We will continue to try to work with related institutions,' Sigit said.
'If existing laws demand we pay taxes then we will pay but if that law is not enforced then who will want to?'
On Monday, thousands of drivers of conventional taxis, public minivans and buses staged a rally, accusing the apps of cutting into their income over recent months. The protesters deemed online transportation services a serious threat to their livelihoods through unfair competition as the operators do not pay taxes and levies to the government, which allows them to offer lower prices to passengers.
The drivers pledged to hold another rally next Monday.
The Organization of Land Transportation Owners (Organda) has also repeatedly voiced its opposition to the ride-hailing apps, saying the businesses distorted the market because of the low fares they offered, which was at the expense of their short-term financial health.
Organda chairman Adrianto Djokosoetono, who also heads the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (Kadin) Land Transportation Committee, claimed that transportation companies' revenues had decreased by 20 percent per annum since the online apps entered the market.
The government previously attempted to block ride-hailing apps last year, with Minister Jonan citing safety, security and permit concerns. However, the ban was quickly scrapped after President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo tweeted his displeasure over it.
Apart from forcing the apps to obtain permits, Sigit said, Blue Bird wanted the government to control the tariffs to level the playing field.
Blue Bird share prices have almost halved from a Rp 12,100 (92 US cent) peak in January to Rp 6,100 on Friday.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Blue Bird's parent company was in talks with investors on a possible $200 million sale of a stake in its logistics unit.
Chairman Bayu Djokosoetono said the Blue Bird Group was seeking private investment in PT Iron Bird Logistics, the merged entity of its two delivery units, with a view to offer shares to the public in the future. The company is talking with potential partners from Japan and Malaysia and hopes to seal a deal in the second half of the year.
Blue Bird, the country's biggest taxi firm, operated 32,500 vehicles as of 2014. Last year, the company said it had purchased around 4,000 vehicles to expand its services.
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