Bahamas ‘Doesn’t Deserve’ Economic Freedom Ranking
The Bahamas ranks 40th out of 144 countries on the latest Economic Freedom of the World Index, placing well ahead of its Caribbean counterparts.
According to the report, obtained by Guardian Business, Barbados came in 73rd, Trinidad & Tobago earned 76th place and Jamaica was ranked 79th.
While the latest figures compiled by the Fraser Institute could indicate a positive trend for The Bahamas, The Nassau Institute, a local think-tank, has expressed concern on the breadth of information collected in the country.
Joan Thompson, the president of the Institute, said rankings are measured by the size of government expenditures, taxes and enterprises, legal stricture and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation of credit, labor and business.
“We accept the complete integrity of the work,” she noted. “The data for The Bahamas may not be as complete as that of other counties that are listed.”
She wondered whether economic freedoms are impacted by old or new public policy, and whether the country is trending towards more or less economic freedom. From 1975 to 1995, Thompson said that the country actually went from seven to 35 out of the 115 countries measured at the time.
The current placing of 40th is actually an improvement over previous years, however.
Rick Lowe, vice president of The Nassau Institute, felt the sampling for The Bahamas is never large enough for an accurate reading.
“My sense is we don’t deserve this ranking. It seems to be harder to do business here all the time. Just try and get a work permit or a permit to build something. There are so many hoops to jump through,” according to Lowe.
That said, he wished to clarify that the Fraser Institute, which compiles the findings, does an admirable job based on what they are given. The issue, he explained, is incomplete data.
“It provides a fair analysis based on what they have. The country can at least look at it as a barometer,” he said.
Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada rounded out the top five for economic freedom. Venezuela came in dead last out of 144 countries, followed by Myanmar, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Congo.
By Jeffrey Todd
Guardian Business Reporter