The Heritage and the WSJ: Belarus economic freedom is the worst in Europe

heritageWASHINGTON — In the annual ranking of economic freedom in the world of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington-based Heritage Foundation Belarus ranked as the worst economy in Europe. Being 43 of 43 in Europe, Belarus is number 167 in the world, just behind the Republic of Congo, but ahead of Iran. Belarusian authorities recently vowed to liberalize its economy. But it remains to be seen whether this time the promises will translate into real reforms needed to improve the country’s image in the world.

Belarus’s economic freedom score is 45, making its economy the 167th freest in the 2009 Index. The persistence of Soviet-era policies and practices continues to deny Belarus the benefits of economic freedom now enjoyed in most other former Soviet republics. Its already low score underwent another deterioration of 0.4 point due to reckless and inefficient government spending that overshadowed gains in trade and business freedom. Belarus is ranked last among the 43 countries in the Europe region.

The majority of Belarus’s 10 economic freedom scores are significantly worse than the world average, though moderate tax rates and low tax revenues put its fiscal freedom score in the top half. Weak economic institutions create major barriers to development. Financial freedom, investment freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption are 20’40 points below the world average. The government controls many financial institutions, either directly or partially. Foreign investment in all sectors faces hurdles ranging from outright restrictions to bureaucratic incompetence. Weak rule of law allows for significant corruption and insecure property rights. Large state-owned enterprises still generate considerable output, and privatization lags well behind other countries in the region.

Read full report at heritage.org.

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