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Government welcomes Heritage Foundation ranking of Hong Kong as world's freest economy

     The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has today (January 28) welcomed the Heritage Foundation's ranking of Hong Kong as the world's freest economy for the 21st consecutive year.

     A Government spokesman said, "We are committed to the free market principles which are the foundation of Hong Kong's sustained economic stability, growth and prosperity. We are pleased to see that our efforts to maintain Hong Kong's economic freedom have been reaffirmed internationally for 21 years in a row."

     Among the 10 Economic Freedom Components measured in the Index of Economic Freedom Report, Hong Kong continued to achieve top position in business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom, received the second top score in investment freedom, and saw slight improvement in the scores for fiscal freedom and labour freedom.

     The Heritage Foundation recognised Hong Kong's efficient and transparent regulatory framework, low and simple taxation and sophisticated capital markets, as well as our status as the most convenient platform for international companies doing business on the Mainland.

     The Foundation said the Hong Kong economy's impressive level of resilience had enabled the city to navigate global economic swings and domestic shocks.

     The Foundation stated that the "rule of law is respected, and the efficient and capable judiciary remains independent", but also noted that the institutional uniqueness of the Hong Kong economy had "faded a bit".

     In this regard, the Government spokesman said, "The Government will continue to uphold our fine tradition of the rule of law, a clean society with a level playing field, an efficient public sector, and a simple tax regime with low tax rates. We will safeguard our free market principles along with our fellow citizens, and maintain Hong Kong's status as an international city."

     Hong Kong's overall score of 89.6 in 2015 was slightly lower than that of 2014 (90.1) due mainly to a deterioration in the perceived level of corruption.

     The spokesman said, "Perceptions about corruption in Hong Kong in recent years may have been affected by some prominent cases. These cases, however, are isolated since the levels of corruption in Hong Kong remain very low.

     "The way these cases were handled in accordance with the law clearly demonstrates our determination to fight corruption without fear or favour, regardless of the background, status and position of those involved.

     "The conviction of the defendants concerned reaffirms the impartiality and independence of our Judiciary and the robustness of our criminal justice system. The heavy penalties imposed by the court on these cases also send a clear signal that corruption will never be tolerated in Hong Kong."

     The spokesman pointed out that the Independent Commission Against Corruption Annual Survey 2014, conducted by an independent research company, found that only 1.5 per cent of respondents had come across corruption in the past 12 months, which is evidence of a very low level of corruption in Hong Kong.

     On constitutional development, the spokesman reiterated that selecting the Chief Executive by universal suffrage is the common aspiration of the Central Authorities, the HKSAR Government and the people of Hong Kong.

     "The Government is determined to achieve universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive election in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, so that 5 million eligible voters may exercise their voting right to directly elect the Chief Executive through 'one person, one vote'," the spokesman said.

     The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom Report was released by the Heritage Foundation on January 27 (Washington, DC, time) in Washington, DC, where it is headquartered.

     The report ranks the degree of economic freedom in 178 economies around the world. The 10 factors assessed are business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, freedom from corruption and labour freedom.

     Hong Kong has been ranked the world's freest economy for 21 consecutive years since the index was first published in 1995.

     In 2015, Hong Kong achieved an overall score of 89.6 (on a scale from 0 to 100), a decline of 0.5 points compared with last year. This score was significantly above the global average of 60.4. Singapore ranked second with 89.4, followed by New Zealand (82.1), Australia (81.5) and Switzerland (80.5).

     The spokesman noted the narrowing gap between Hong Kong and Singapore in 2015.

     "We are keenly aware of competition from other economies within and outside the region. We always try to keep up with the latest global economic developments, and strive to enhance our competitiveness," the spokesman said.

Ends/Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Issued at HKT 02:04


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