If Hong Kong's economy were as free as the government would like the world to believe it is, Ma Kiu-sang and Ng Hoi-shan would not be billionaires but almost everybody else would be better off. According to the Apple Daily, Ma, son of 'minibus king' Ma Ah-mok, is worth an estimated HK$8 billion while Ng, son of 'taxi mogul' Ng Fang, has seen his fortune grow to HK$1.8 billion. Why? Because the price of a minibus licence is now HK$6.5 million and that for a taxi has hit HK$4 million, and these two men play the market in these profitable commodities, which have risen to such values only because the government restricts their number (in the case of taxis, to 18,138, which has been static since 1998). Beyond ensuring every driver is fit to drive and every vehicle is safe to be on the road, why is the government of a 'free' economy meddling here? Shouldn't the market be left to decide how many licences - documents that should cost no more than the price of preparation (and perhaps a little taxation on top) - need to be printed? If taxi and minibus drivers - you know, the people who do the actual work - were free from having to pay exorbitant leases or repay a huge bank loan taken out to buy a licence, they would be able to put more of their hard-earned money in their pockets even as they charged their passengers less.