Barbados is ranked 67th in the list of “freest economies” out of 180 countries in the 2019 Index of Economic Freedom report.
Released earlier this year by the Heritage Foundation, the report showed Barbados with a score of 64.7 out of 100, making it a “moderately free” economy.
This places Barbados in 13th position in the Caribbean and Latin America and fourth among Caribbean countries.
St Lucia, Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines scored higher than Barbados, but are also considered “moderately free” economies, with scores of 68.7, 68.6 and 65.8, respectively.
Barbados’ overall score increased by 7.7 points in this year’s index, with large increases in scores for fiscal health and government spending far outweighing declines in monetary freedom and trade freedom, the report said.
It pointed out that increases in arrivals and spending by tourists have helped economic growth in the past year.
“Government’s economic policies are focused on attracting international companies. Regulatory efficiency facilitates private sector growth. Despite some restrictions on foreign investment, transparency levels the playing field for domestic and foreign businesses, but excessive bureaucracy
discourages the expansion of investment by undercutting policies intended to buttress open trade and productivity growth,” it said.
“The new Government has executed a fiscal consolidation and debt restructuring plan that includes a selective default, but government debt remains very high,” the report added.
The country was assessed and scored in areas such as property rights (52.9), judicial effectiveness (59.9), government integrity (53.8), tax burden (70.1), government spending (65), fiscal health (79.5), business freedom (69.8), labour freedom (59.9), monetary freedom (78.3), trade freedom (56.6), investment freedom (70) and financial freedom (60).
The report on Barbados said property registration was very time-consuming, while indicating that the protection of property rights remains strong and the rule of law was respected.
“Corruption is not a major problem, and anticorruption laws are implemented effectively. Violence related to transshipment drug trafficking from Venezuela remains a serious problem,” it added.
Commenting on the country’s business and labour freedom, the report said the overall process for obtaining licences and starting a business was not burdensome while the labour market remained relatively flexible.