Pakistan's Economy Rated 'Mostly Unfree'
KARACHI: Pakistan's economy is 'mostly unfree' as people are not empowered enough to work, produce, consume, own, trade and invest as per their personal choices, according to a recent study conducted by a leading Washington-based think tank.
The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, which is developed by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with The Wall Street Journal, ranks Pakistan 121st among 178 countries of the world when it comes to economic freedom.
The index categorises countries in five groups: free, mostly free, moderately free, mostly unfree and repressed. Pakistan ranks in the second last category with the likes of Nigeria (120), Kenya (122), India (128) and Bangladesh (131).
"Pakistan has privatised some state-run industries, but the economy is still heavily regulated, and poor security discourages foreign investment," the Heritage Foundation said in its brief commentary on the state of economic freedom in Pakistan.
Reaction in Pakistan to the index and Pakistan's poor rank- ing in it was somewhat mixed. Some economic experts were cognisant of the fact that the government's regulation of the economy has many shortcomings. But many on the left of the political spectrum chose to delight at Pakistan's absence of economic liberty.
Dr Ikramul Haq said a poor regulatory framework is eating away at the economic freedom of the average Pakistani citizen.
"Regulatory shortcomings and enforcement issues have curtailed economic liberty in Pakistan," he said.
Taking into account national policies that improve or hurt economic freedom of ordinary citizens, the index assesses an economy via 10 broad indicators, namely property rights, freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending, business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom.
In Pakistan's case, four of the 10 indicators showed improvement over the last year, four showed deterioration while two remained flat.
Pakistan's score went up by 0.4 points over the last year, which is reflective of improvements in the categories of investment freedom and freedom from corruption. However, these improvements are counterbalanced by deteriorations in labour freedom and business freedom.
With its overall score below the world and regional averages, Pakistan is ranked 25th
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