PH ranks 97th in economic freedom index; still 'mostly unfree'

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Jan 10 2013 06:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 11 2013 04:27 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines ranked 97th out of 177 countries in the economic freedom index published by the The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation on Thursday.

The Philippines' 97th ranking puts it in the "mostly unfree" category of the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. Other countries in the "mostly unfree" category include Cambodia (95),  Indonesia (108), India (119), China (136) and Russia (139).

2013 Index of economic freedom 

The Philippines' economic freedom score stood at 58.2, which is 1.1 points higher than the previous year.

The index, which has been conducted every year since 1995, measures 4 areas of economic freedom including the rule of law, regulatory efficiency, government interference and open markets.

The study cited the Philippines' improvements in investment freedom and freedom from corruption.

However, these gains were negated by a decline in business freedom, labor freedom and monetary freedom.

The Philippines was cited for its legislative reforms that have improved the entrepreneurial environment and strengthened the private sector to spur job creation.
However, the Philippines has to do more to improve its ranking on the index.

"Nevertheless, 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. 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," it said.

Among the 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines ranked 17th. However, its overall score is still below the world average of 59.6.

Freest economies

Hong Kong topped the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, with a score of 89.3, follwed by Singapore with a score of 88. The two Asian cities were considered the "freest", along with Australia (3), New Zealand (4) and Switerzland (5). 

Japan fell two spots to 24th, while China ranked 136th due to widespread corruption and weak legal system.

North Korea ranked last (177) on the index. Other "repressed" countries were Cuba (176), Zimbabawe (175), Venezuela (174), Burma (172) and Iran (168).