Index of Economic Freedom: India leapfrogs 13 places to 130

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 12, 2018 13:42 hrs

[India], Apr. 12 (ANI): Adding another feather to its cap, India jumped 13 places to achieve the 130th spot in this year's Index of Economic Freedom published by the Heritage Foundation, an American think-tank.

As per the latest edition, India moved up to the 130th spot, up from 143 in 2017, two spots below its neighbour, Pakistan.

With this achievement, India has now surpassed Pakistan by one spot.

India's economic freedom score was 54.5, making its economy the 130th freest in the 2018 Index. The firm noted that India's overall score increased by 1.9 points, led by improvements in judicial effectiveness, business freedom, government integrity, and fiscal health.

Among the 43 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, India was ranked 30, and its overall score was below the regional and world averages.

As per the American think tank, India is perceived to be moving into an open-market economy, although traces of its past autarkic policies still remain.

The report further stated that economic liberalisation measures, including industrial deregulation, privatisation of state-owned enterprises and reduced control on foreign trade and investment that began in the early 1990s, has accelerated growth.

However, it noted that in spite of the hike in growth, corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, a restrictive and burdensome regulatory environment, and poor financial and budget management continue to undermine overall development.

In terms of property rights and judicial effectiveness, the report noted that although land titles in some urban and nearly all rural areas remain unclear, real property rights in large metropolitan areas are generally well enforced. However, the Foundation stated that Indian courts continued to be understaffed and lacked adequate technology to cover for the missing labour.

"The judiciary is independent, but Indian courts are understaffed and lack the technology necessary to clear an enormous backlog. Although officials are often caught accepting bribes, a great deal of corruption goes unnoticed and unpunished," it added.

In terms of trade, the Foundation in its report highlighted that government openness to foreign investment is below average.

"Trade is moderately important to India's economy; the combined value of exports and imports equals 40 percent of GDP. The average applied tariff rate is 6.3 percent. Nontariff barriers significantly impede trade. Government openness to foreign investment is below average. State-owned institutions dominate the financial sector, and foreign participation is limited. In public-sector banks, troubled assets account for about 10 percent of total assets," it added.

On a related note, this year's report saw China move one spot higher to 111, while Pakistan was ranked 131. (ANI)



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