Friday, January 14, 2011

HK remains freest economy as lead slips

[Hong Kong Standard, Jan 13 2011]

“Hong Kong remains the freest economy in the world for the 17th straight year but Singapore is hot on its heels, the Heritage Foundation said.

The Economic Freedom Index, released yesterday by the conservative think tank and Wall Street Journal ranks 183 countries and places on 10 measures for openness, rule of law and competitiveness.

While Hong Kong's score is unchanged at 89.7 out of 100, Singapore gained 1.1 points on financial freedom.

"There is a possibility Singapore may overtake Hong Kong in the near future as the state has more room for improvement in banking," said Terry Miller, the US foundation's index editor, adding Hong Kong's major drawback is an oversized fiscal surplus.

"There's no reason the government should have a surplus more than the monetary base," said Hugo Restall, editorial page editor for Wall Street Journal Asia. That surplus, he said, should be cut by at least half and the profits tax rate trimmed to 15 percent.

Hong Kong declined in government spending and labor freedom.

The mainland came in as "mostly unfree" at 135 and a score that is lower than averages for the world and Asia.”

With the minimum wage legislation implemented and major revisions of the Company Law under way, our business community is keeping an watchful eye on impact of such to the dynamics of our market.

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