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Gov't seeking to support taxi drivers: transport minister


SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- The government will soon submit legislation on government support for taxi drivers that will include limiting the number of new licenses, the transportation minister said Thursday, a move apparently aimed at easing the current oversupply of cabs in Seoul and other major cities.

"The government will come up with a bill on the support for taxi drivers and submit it to the National Assembly before the ongoing parliamentary session ends at the end of this month," Suh Seoung-hwan, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, told reporters.

The parliament had legislated a new law that sought to designate taxis as a mass public transportation, which would have entitled taxi drivers and their companies to various types of government support, including subsidies.

The so-called taxi law was rejected by former President Lee Myung-bak on Jan. 22, only about one month before Lee stepped down. The Assembly has so far failed to act on the vetoed legislation.

Instead of providing the kind of government support currently afforded to mass transportation operators, such as bus and subway operators, the minister said the government will seek to improve the competitiveness of the taxi service industry, partly by reducing the number of cabs to an appropriate level in each city.

It also plans to offer tax incentives, along with compensation for those who give up their existing taxi licenses, Suh said.

At the same time, the government will seek to improve the overall quality of taxi services, intensifying penalties for those who refuse to take passengers or demand additional fares.

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