February 17, 2022 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy has remained “moderately free” even as the country slipped seven spots in the latest Economic Freedom Index from Washington-based think tank The Heritage Foundation.
From 73rd place last year, the country fell to 80th out of 177 countries included in the 2022 index, which measures economic freedom based on 12 factors grouped into four broad categories.
These include the rule of law (property rights, integrity of government, judicial efficiency); size of government (public spending, tax burden, fiscal health); regulatory efficiency (commercial freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom) and open markets (commercial freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).
The Philippines was ranked 15th among 39 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and sixth among Southeast Asian countries after Singapore (1st globally), Malaysia (42nd), Brunei (62nd), Indonesia (63rd) and Thailand (70th).
The Philippines earned an overall score of 61.1 out of 100, down three points from last year.
Its scores improved on all three factors under regulatory effectiveness, while they fell on all three under rule of law.
The country’s scores also fell on public spending, fiscal health, and business freedom, while they remained the same on tax burden, investment freedom, and financial freedom.
“Economic growth in the Philippines slowed from 2017 to 2019, turned negative in 2020, and rebounded in 2021. Over the same five-year period, economic freedom has slipped,” the report read.
“Driven by declining fiscal health and monetary freedom scores, the Philippines has seen an overall loss of economic freedom of 4.5 points since 2017 and has fallen to the bottom ranks of ‘moderately free’ countries. The tax burden n is not heavy and commercial freedom is a positive point, but the judicial efficiency and the integrity of the government have weaknesses,” he added.
Most of the data used in the 2022 index covered the second half of 2020 through the first half of 2021, according to the index.