Greece fails to shake off low ranking in Economic Freedom Index

Greece has been given a low ranking in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, the annual analysis of 10 economic freedom indicators by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

The country ranked 117th out of 177 countries on the list, just below Senegal. Hong Kong topped the list, followed by Singapore. Switzerland was the top ranked European country in fifth place. Ireland was the highest ranked eurozone country, in 11th place.

Greece was given a score of 55.4, unchanged from 2012 and putting it in the “mostly unfree” category.

“Its score is the same as last year, reflecting substantial declines in property rights and financial freedom that largely offset improvements in six of the 10 economic freedoms,” said researchers. “Greece is ranked 40th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the world and regional averages.”

The report showed deterioration in the rule of law category. “Protection of property rights is not strongly enforced,” the researchers said. “The law provides severe penalties for bribery, but enforcement remains lax. A high level of perceived corruption in the public sector and rampant tax evasion in the private sector contribute significantly to Greece’s current economic and financial predicament.”

Greece has improved its performance in the regulatory efficiency category but the reports says there is more to be done. “The process for launching a company is fairly streamlined, but licensing requirements remain burdensome and time-consuming,” researchers said. “With rigid restrictions on work hours and high non-salary costs to employ a worker, the labor market remains stagnant.”