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Economic freedom: Phl 89th out of 178 countries

Jose Katigbak - The Philippine Star

WASHINGTON – The Philippines scored 60.1 points and was ranked 89th freest country in the world out of 178 rated in the 2014 Index of World Economic Freedom.

In 2013, the Philippines was ranked in 97th place with a score of 58.2 points.

“The Philippines has shown consistent score improvement in the index for a number of years, showing a dedication to reform amongst the country’s leadership,” said Terry Miller, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics.

“Rule of law continues to be a major concern, as ownership structures remain from the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Philippine leaders must look to strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption if they want to sustain their score improvements,” he said.

Since 1995 the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, in partnership with The Wall Street Journal, has tracked the march of economic freedom around the world with the Index of Economic Freedom.

The index rates countries in 10 categories – labor freedom, business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights and freedom from corruption – and the results are averaged to create an overall score.

Over the 20-year history of the index, the Philippines’ economic freedom score has advanced by 5.1 points.

Improvements in seven of the 10 economic freedoms, including significant gains in trade freedom, investment freedom and freedom from corruption, have been partially offset by a deterioration in property rights, said a press statement issued by the Heritage Foundation.

Out of 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines ranked 16th.

Based on their scores the countries graded in the 2014 Index are classified as “free” (those with scores of 80 points or higher), “mostly free” (70-79.9 points), “moderately free” (60-69.9), “mostly unfree” (50-59.9) or “repressed” (under 50).

With its third consecutive year of overall score improvement, the Philippines has risen back to “moderately free” in the 2014 index report.

While lauding the Aquino administration’s legislative reforms to enhance the investment environment and incentivize broader-based, private-sector job growth, the report said lingering institutional challenges will not be overcome without a deeper commitment to reform.

It said more effective anti-corruption measures need to be firmly institutionalized.

Hong Kong with a score of 90.1 points and Singapore (89.4) finished first and second in the rankings for the 20th straight year followed in order by Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada.

The United States was in 12th place.

In Manila, Malacañang noted that the “recently released 2014 Index of Economic Freedom is yet another affirmation of the gains that our country is reaping along the straight path.”

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement, “This jump reflects the significant improvements that our country has made in seven of the ten economic freedoms, including significant gains in investment freedom, business freedom, monetary freedom, and the control of government spending.”

Lacierda also noted “that the data used in the 2014 Index were based mostly on 2012 statistics. We believe that there have been significant improvements since then, despite the challenges we had to overcome as one nation. The positive results of this evaluation only strengthen our administration’s resolve to continue implementing reforms founded on good governance and true public service, which are necessary prerequisites to fostering lasting and inclusive growth in the Philippines.”

ECONOMIC EDWIN LACIERDA FREEDOM HERITAGE FOUNDATION HONG KONG IN MANILA INDEX INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM INDEX OF WORLD ECONOMIC FREEDOM INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND ECONOMICS
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