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Jamaica ranked fifth for economic freedom in the Caribbean

Published:Sunday | January 19, 2014 | 12:42 PM

Jamaica has been ranked fifth in terms of economic freedom among Caribbean countries.

The respected Washington-based think tank, the Heritage Foundation in the United States, in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, said Jamaica is ranked 10th overall in the Americas and 56th globally.

According to the index, which was published last week, Jamaica is the fifth economically free English-speaking Caribbean country behind St Lucia, The Bahamas, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, which have been placed at numbers 33, 36, 45, and 52, respectively. The Caribbean states, including Dominica at position 63 and Trinidad and Tobago at 73, were all described as moderately free economies.

Hong Kong is considered the most economically free state according to the index.

The publication's authors say Jamaica maintained an economic freedom score of 66.7, which remained unchanged from last year because of combined improvements in five of the 10 economic freedoms, including labour freedom and the control of government spending. But these gains were offset by declines in financial freedom and fiscal freedom.

Jamaica's economic freedom score advanced by 2.3 points in the 20-year history of the index. Regulatory efficiency, measured through business freedom, labour freedom, and monetary freedom, improved over the review period, according to the publication, and both trade freedom and investment freedom have recorded double-digit improvements.

However, it says the gains have been affected by substantial deterioration in the rule of law, as assessed by property rights and freedom from corruption, as well as financial freedom.

The researchers say the country's critical development challenges include lingering corruption and high government spending. It also points to the country's high public debt, which has surpassed 145 per cent of GDP, as a main challenge.

It says reducing the size of the public sector; fulfilling plans to privatize loss-making state-owned enterprises, and enforcing expenditure restraint are essential for Jamaica to meet its fiscal targets.

The index covers 10 freedoms grouped into four broad categories across 186 countries. The freedoms categories are: Rule of law; limited government; regulatory efficiency and open markets.

It defines economic freedom as the fundamental right people have to control their how their labour, consumption, production and investment and says these freedoms impact greatly on a country's prosperity.


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