Taxi licences should be leased instead of sold, to stop speculation and deter malpractice, critics said yesterday. On the eve of the deadline on the public consultation on licences, Democratic Party members yesterday met Transport Commissioner Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun demanding an end to rising speculation, which it is feared could reach $4 million for each licence by the year's end. Party spokesman Zachary Wong Wai-yin said owning a taxi should not be seen as an investment. 'These licences are to provide essential transport for Hong Kong's commuters but some people are treating it like a money-making exercise or investment,' he said. 'If the licence is rented out then prices and drivers can be better controlled.' Urban Taxi Drivers' Association Joint Committee spokesman Kwok Chi-piu agreed, saying the move would improve the image of the industry and deter malpractice. But owners' representative Ng Kwok-hung of the Taxi Associations Federation believed leasing licences would have little effect as the problem was that there were 'too many taxis and too little business'.