Philippines ranks 97th in economic freedom

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Citing its resilience in the global economic slowdown, the Philippines ranked 97th out of 177 countries in terms of economic freedom, according an international think tank.

“Weathering the ongoing global economic slowdown with a high degree of resilience, the Philippine economy has been on a steady path of economic expansion, growing at an average annual rate above 4.5 percent over the past five years,” the Heritage Foundation said in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom.

In the index, the country’s economic freedom scored 58.2, making its economy the 97th freest, or 1.1 points higher than last year.

In Asia Pacific, the country ranked 17th out of 41 countries, and its overall score is slightly below the world average. The think tank said that the Philippines has notable improvements in investment freedom and freedom from corruption, outweighing a decline in business freedom.

In a roundtable on Monday, Heritage Foundation Senior Analyst Anthony Kim said that with its improved ranking this year, it will be much easier attract foreign business in the country.

“The Philippines is now more vibrant and dynamic economy. We are really impressed in its well intended policy along with highly educated people,” he said.

The index mentioned that the Philippine government has pursued a series of legislative reforms to enhance the entrepreneurial environment, and develop a stronger private sector to generate broader-based job growth. However, it noted that institutional challenges require deeper commitment to reform.

“Although the perceived level of corruption has declined in recent years, more effective anti-corruption measures need to be institutionalized,” it said.

The index added that the inefficient judiciary remains susceptible to political interference and does not provide strong and transparent enforcement of the law, undermining prospects for long-term economic development.

Kim noted that a strong leadership is very important in economic freedom, adding that the key thing is institutional reforms, particularly toward corruption.

“This upbeat resilience of the economy is here. That is why [the country]has to build up from this momentum. If you continue this way, we will have another successful story in Asia. The trajectory you are in is progressive and positive,” the analyst said.

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