New York, 19 January (STA) - After two years of progress, Slovenia this year lost five spots in the Index of Economic Freedom to place 66th among the 183 countries surveyed by the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think-tank, and the Wall Street Journal.
The overall score of 64.6 points out of 100 puts the country on the lower end of the "moderately free" scale, which is 0.1 point lower than in the 2010 report carried out among 179 countries.
The list is topped by Hong Kong with 98.7 points, which is followed by Singapore (87.2 points) and Australia (82.5 points).
The score, gathered by combining ten economic freedoms, places Slovenia 29th among the 43 European countries and below the regional average of 66.8 points. Slovenia also lags behind the "economically free" countries, whose average score is 84.1 points, but exceeds the world average of 59.7 points.
Slovenia's score has decreased by 0.1 point since last year, with reduced ratings in freedom from corruption (from 67 to 66 points), labour freedom (from 43.5 to 41.8 points), and government spending (from 46.1 to 41.1 points).
Meanwhile, its position improved in four categories, most notably in monetary freedom (by 3.5 points to 80.5 points). In investment and financial freedom, and property rights, its score remained level. In financial freedom, Slovenia has kept its rating at 50 points since 2006.
"Facilitated by ongoing structural reforms and an increasingly vibrant private sector, the Slovenian economy enjoys relatively high levels of business freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption," the report says.
Business regulations have become more straightforward and transparent, and recent reductions in the corporate tax rate have increased competitiveness, according to the report. Public debt remains low, but the fiscal deficit has risen to 5.5 percent of GDP.
The report calls for a pension reform, strengthened management of public finance and development of a more dynamic financial sector. Labour market reforms have also been delayed, hampering employment and productivity growth, it adds.
The country was first included in the index in 1996, when it scored only 50.4 points. However, its standing has been mostly improving since. So far, its score deteriorated year-on-year only in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2007.