THE Philippines’ economic freedom ranking slipped six places to 49th out of 162 countries, Canadian think-tank Fraser Institute said in its 2018 Economic Freedom of the World report.

The report, which used data from 2016, showed the Philippines with a score of 7.34 out of ten, from 7.43 in 2015. The country shared its 2016 ranking with Gambia and the Bahamas.

Fraser Institute scored five areas, such as size of government, legal system and property rights, soundness of money, freedom to trade internationally and regulation.

The Philippines scored the highest in sound money and size of government with 9.42 and 8.50, respectively.

The think tank noted the significance of sound money, because high levels of inflation and volatility make it “difficult for individuals to plan for the future and thus use economic freedom effectively,” while size of government tends to signal the direction of spending and taxation, among others.

The Philippines scored the lowest in legal systems and property rights with 4.28 in 2016, down from 4.43 in 2015.

The country scored 7.13 in freedom to trade, in terms of buying, selling, entering into contracts and the like; and 7.37 in regulation, which may serve as constraints on the right to exchange. This is slightly lower than the 7.31 and 7.44 scores in 2015, respectively.

Socio-economic planning secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a phone interview Wednesday that economic freedom has improved since he assumed office in 2016. “I would think so, I would think so,” he said when asked.

He said based on the performance of the country, economic freedom has improved in terms of the “extent of economic decisions that can be made and the flexibility of policies.”

The rankings were topped by Hong Kong and Singapore with overall scores of 8.97 and 8.84.

Also in the top 10 were New Zealand (8.49), Switzerland (8.39), Ireland (8.07), the US (8.03), Georgia (8.02), Mauritius (8.01), the UK (8.00), Australia (7.98), and Canada (7.98). — Charmaine A. Tadalan