The legal loophole that allows non-permanent Hong Kong residents to obtain a taxi driving licence will exist for at least another six months before the government completes a review aimed at amending the laws. Annie Choi Suk-han, deputy secretary for transport, told lawmakers on Legco's transport panel yesterday that she would not be able to come up with necessary legal changes until the end of this year. This was because it involved privacy and human rights issues. The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau also needed to consult the Security Bureau, the Immigration Department and the Department of Justice. 'In the meantime, we will keep close liaison with the taxi trade,' Ms Choi said. 'If they keep a tight gateway and not allow people without Hong Kong identity cards to rent taxis, then this could effectively be stopped. But it does not mean that we won't change the law.' Lawmakers found the wait to be unacceptable and passed a motion urging the government to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said he did not understand why the review should take so long when all the government needed to do was ask people to show their Hong Kong identity cards when getting a taxi driving licence. But legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee cautioned that this requirement should not be extended to applicants for regular driving licences because travellers might want to drive in Hong Kong. Individuals can apply for a taxi driving licence if they have held a driving licence for private cars or light goods vehicles for three years and passed a written test. They are not required to prove that they are permanent Hong Kong residents when getting the regular licences. However, immigration laws do not allow visitors to take up any employment without the permission of the director of immigration. The legal loophole was not exposed until a mainland visitor was caught operating a taxi in March. He was later arrested by the Immigration Department and sentenced to three-month imprisonment for breaching his conditions of stay.