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SVG among four registering most economic freedom regionally


St. Lucia, Barbados, The Bahamas and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been singled out by a United States think tank to have registered the most economic freedom in the Region.{{more}}

The Heritage Foundation, in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, in its 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, ranked St. Lucia 24th in the world, ahead of Barbados which is ranked 37th, The Bahamas 46th; St. Vincent and the Grenadines 52nd; Jamaica 58th; Trinidad and Tobago 63rd; Belize 77th; Dominica 80th ; Suriname133rd ; Guyana137th and Haiti 142nd.

“Cuba’s economic freedom score is 28.3, making its economy one of the world’s least free”, says the Heritage Foundation. “Its overall score is marginally higher than last year, with declines in freedom from corruption and monetary freedom offset by a gain in fiscal freedom. Cuba is ranked last of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is significantly lower than the regional average.”

The index looks at a series of factors, including the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets.

“St. Lucia’s economic freedom score is 71.3, making its economy the 24th freest in the 2012 Index,” the Heritage Foundation said.

“Its score is 0.5 point better than last year, with improvements in monetary, investment and labour freedom offset by deterioration in the control of government spending and business freedom,” it added.

The foundation said St. Lucia is ranked second out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its overall score is above the world average.

“The St. Lucian economy has long benefited from a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure and a tradition of entrepreneurial dynamism in the private sector,” it said, adding “the business environment is generally efficient and transparent, and the regulatory framework has become more streamlined.

“The small financial sector has not suffered any serious impact from the global financial turmoil, but the recession has hurt the tourism sector,” it said.

The Heritage Foundation, however, said that St. Lucia’s open-market policies are not firmly institutionalized, adding that trade freedom is limited by tariff and non-tariff barriers, and the investment regime lacks efficiency.

“Greater access to financing opportunities remains critical to private-sector development,” it said, stating that, in recent years, expansionary government spending has driven up public debt to around 65 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ economic freedom score is 66.5, making its economy the 52nd freest in the 2012 Index. Its score is 0.4 point lower than last year, with declines in business freedom and the control of government spending outweighing a modest increase in monetary stability. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ranks 10th out of 29 countries in the South and Central America/Caribbean region, and its score is well above the regional average.

Other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries ranked by the Foundation include Belize 77th; Dominica 80th; Suriname 133rd ; Guyana 137th and Haiti 142nd.(from Caricom News Network)