Bangladesh moves up economic liberty index | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 18, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 18, 2010

Bangladesh moves up economic liberty index

States Heritage Foundation-Wall Street Journal report

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Bangladesh has made significant strides in the Index of Economic Freedom world rankings, making its economy the 137th freest in the world.
In the ranking, the country's overall score was 51.1, which is 3.6 points higher than that of the last year, according to the report jointly prepared by USA-based think tank Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.
In the Asia-Pacific region Bangladesh has been ranked 29th out of 41 countries.
“The gains reflect Bangladesh's improvements in trade freedom and investment freedom,” according to the report.
In the index, the country for the first time graduated itself from the 'Repressed' category to the category of 'Mostly Unfree' countries.
Praising the country's performance in last five years, the report said, “Bangladesh has enjoyed impressive economic growth of around 6 percent per year over the past five years driven mainly by its limited but growing services and industrial sectors.”
It, however, said, “Structural and institutional weaknesses remain serious impediments to sustaining such high economic growth rates.”
It said Bangladesh's economy remains overly dependent on agriculture, which accounts for almost 20 percent of GDP and employs more than half of the labour force.
It also said the heavily politicised weak regulatory regime of the country often tends to crowd out private investment while corruption, coupled with onerous bureaucracy, is still perceived as pervasive.
This year the ranking covered 183 countries measuring 10 components of economic freedom. Score in each category ranged from 0 to 100.
The components were business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour freedom.
In the component business freedom Bangladesh scored 59.4 out of 100. The report said in Bangladesh it requires 44 days on average to start a business while the world average is 35 days. However, obtaining a business license requires less than the world average of 18 procedures.
Bangladesh's score was 58 in trade freedom component. Import and export restrictions, numerous border taxes and fees, burdensome import licencing rules, export subsidies, government monopolies, inefficient and corrupt customs administration, among others, add to the cost of trade in the country, said the report.
Twenty points were deducted from Bangladesh's trade freedom score to account for non-tariff barriers.
In the monetary freedom component where the country scored 66.6, a total of 15 points were deducted from this component to adjust for price-control measures that distort domestic prices for petroleum products, some pharmaceuticals, and goods produced in state-owned enterprises.
About the financial freedom the report said Bangladesh has made modest progress in recent years in its banking sector adding that the sector is underdeveloped and provides a limited range of banking services.
Bangladesh's state-owned commercial banks, which account for more than 30 percent of total banking system assets, undermine the sector's efficiency, it said. Bangladesh scored 20 in the financial freedom component.
In the global context Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia are the top three scorers in the index while North Korea, Zimbabwe and Cuba were top from the bottom.
In South Asian context Bangladesh's position was only above Maldives whose rank is 148th. Bhutan's position was the 103rd, Pakistan's 117th, Sri Lanka's 120th, India's 124th, and Nepal's 130th.
Though Afghanistan was covered in the index, it was not given any score.

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