Sri Lanka rated ‘Mostly Unfree’ in new report: Heritage Foundation

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Feb 21, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka slipped to be rated as a ‘Mostly Unfree’ country this year in the Index of Economic Freedom, with the lack of government integrity and judicial freedom contributing towards the slip, a new report showed.

The US-based Heritage Foundation, in their annual Index of Economic Freedom, said that economic reforms undertaken to improve Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic stability and potential for growth include strengthening the management of public finance and structural reforms to foster a more dynamic private sector.

However, the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom said that a weak judiciary continues to undermine property rights, and the perceived level of corruption is debilitating.

Sri Lanka had slipped to the 112th place from the 93rd place last year with a score of 57.1, recording a six year low. In 2016 the island scored 59.9 out of 100.

A score below 50 indicates a ‘Repressed’ country, while a score above 70 is a ‘Mostly Free’ country. Scoring 80 is classified as ‘Free’.

Under the rule of law category, the score for property rights increased to 48 in 2017 from 40 in the last year while Sri Lanka’s political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 due to ongoing reforms to the constitution and electoral processes, and because the government has taken steps to combat corruption.

Government integrity saw a dip to 30 this year, the lowest levels since of 1995/6. In 2016 it was at a high of 39.

A total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains.

With populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states, 2016 marked the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.

Sri Lanka ranked 25th in the entire Asia Pacific region, while China ranked 24th, Bangladesh 28th, Pakistan 32nd, India 33rd and Vietnam 35th.

Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia were ranked in the top five both in Asia Pacific as well as in the World.

There were setbacks in political rights, civil liberties, or both, in a number of countries rated “Free” by the report, including Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States.

Of the 195 countries assessed, 87 (45 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 49 (25 percent) Not Free.

The Middle East and North Africa region had the worst ratings in the world in 2016, followed closely by Eurasia.