By Marjaleen Ramos
The Philippines achieved an economic freedom score of 63.8, making the economy the 70th freest in the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom (IEF), the Heritage Foundation announced.
The Philippines scored 65.0 in 2018 and ranked 61st in the list. The decline of 1.2 points in its overall score dragged the country down to 70th place out of 186 countries evaluated in the study.
The country ranked 15th among 43 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages.
“Its overall score has decreased by 1.2 points, with drops in scores for monetary freedom, government integrity, and the tax burden outweighing a higher score for property rights,” The Heritage Foundation said.
Hong Kong topped this year’s IEF with 90.2 points. It was followed by Singapore (89.4), New Zealand (84.4), Switzerland (81.9), Australia with (80.9), and Ireland (80.5).
The think tank said that continued strong economic growth, driven in part by ambitious state-funded infrastructure projects, has allowed the government to prioritize domestic law-and-order issues over economic policy concerns.
“The absence of entrepreneurial dynamism thwarts development. Despite the adoption of some fiscal reforms, deeper institutional reforms are needed in interrelated areas: business freedom, investment freedom, and the rule of law. The judicial system remains weak and vulnerable to political influence,” The Heritage Foundation said.
Other ASEAN countries rank as follows: Malaysia (22nd), Thailand (43rd), Indonesia (56th), Brunei (63rd), Cambodia (105th), Laos (110th), Vietnam (128th), Myanmar (139th).
Meanwhile, countries such as Iraq, Libya, Liechtenstein, Somalia, Syria and Yemen were not ranked due to lack of data.
The IEF is an annual survey of 180 countries published since 1995 by the Heritage Foundation.
The 2019 Index graded economies based on 12 independent factors namely: property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, government spending, tax burden, fiscal health, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom.