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PH jumps 6 places in economic freedom index

THE PHILIPPINES has jumped six notches to 70th place in this year’s economic freedom survey of 186 countries published by the Heritage Foundation of the United States.

The 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, the annual survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, “reaffirmed the economic freedom in the Philippines and recognized its notable success in monetary freedom and management of public finance,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cusia, Jr., said in a statement.

The Philippines achieved an economic freedom score of 63.1 out of a possible 100, which is above the global and regional averages.

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READ: PH improves economic freedom score

It showed improvements in business freedom (+7.7); freedom from corruption (+2.0); and trade freedom (+1.0).

It also ranked 14th among the countries in the Asia-Pacific that were surveyed. Hong Kong retained its title as the world’s freest economy for the 22nd year in a row. It was followed by Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland and Australia.

The index rates economies based on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors called “economic freedoms” grouped under four broad categories or pillars—rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open market.

Malacañang Tuesday welcomed the results of the index, which showed the Philippines jumping from the 76th position last year to 70th place.

“This is the highest score our country has received since the Index began in 1995,” said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, noting how the Philippines “has steadily improved its score, gaining a total of 6 points since 2012”.

“Our country is the 14th freest among the 42 countries surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

However, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said economic freedom should lead to reduced poverty.

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“This is the highest score our country has received since the Index began in 1995.”

“To me, economic freedom means freedom from want by the vast majority of the people. We cannot call ourselves really free if no less than a third of 104 million people still live on the edge of poverty,” Romualdez said in a statement.

“We have actually made very little progress in eradicating poverty despite claims of better-than-expected GDP growth,” he said.

What the government should aspire for is a significant drop in poverty levels in the country, said the three-term congressman, who is seeking a Senate seat in the 2016 elections.

In the survey report, the Heritage Foundation observed that “the Philippine economy has been growing steadily at an average annual rate above 6 percent for the past five years.”

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