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Hong Kong ranked world’s freest economy for 22nd year running
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam welcomes report by US think tank Heritage Foundation, but warns that filibuster in Legco is not attractive to investors
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 February, 2016, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 February, 2016, 2:59pm
Hong Kong scored 88.6 out of 100 points in the annual index of economic freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation, down by one point from last year. Photo: Robert Ng
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday welcomed the latest report by a US think tank that ranked the city the world’s freest economy for the 22nd year in a row, while hitting out at the ongoing filibustering in the legislature.
Hong Kong scored 88.6 out of 100 points in the annual index of economic freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation, down by one point from last year, beating key rival Singapore by 0.8 points and relegating the island nation to second place.
“We are very pleased that Hong Kong was again ranked the freest economy by the Heritage Foundation for the 22nd consecutive year,” said Lam, who is the acting chief executive as Leung Chun-ying is on an official visit to India.
“The determination of the Hong Kong SAR government to safeguard economic freedom in Hong Kong is beyond doubt ... the free market principle is the cornerstone of our sustained economic development and prosperity.”
As Lam pledged to maintain a favourable business environment and an efficient public sector, she also took the chance on Tuesday morning to criticise the filibustering in the legislature, which she said would not help attract investors.
The top 10 countries in the Heritage Foundation index.
She said some chambers of commerce had reflected their concerns over the filibustering in the Legislative Council, which had delayed the government’s infrastructure projects.
“I call on the lawmakers again to approve the funding request for the express railway [linking Guangzhou and Hong Kong] which has already been discussed five times – amounting to 11.5 hours – in the public works sub-committee this afternoon,” she said.
The extra funding request of HK$5.3 billion would still need the approval of the legislature’s finance committee even if it got the green light from the public works sub-committee.
When asked if the government would bypass the public works subcommittee and submit the application directly to the finance committee should the lawmakers fail to put the item on vote on Tuesday, Lam said that was not something the government – which she said “respected procedures” – would like to see. But she did not say clearly whether that was their plan.
Meanwhile, in the latest report by the Heritage Foundation, the think tank also raised its concerns over Beijing’s interference in the city’s affairs, which could affect the city’s rating in the future.
“Beijing’s ongoing efforts to erode the power of Hong Kong’s judiciary and Legislative Council and to intervene in the economy could undermine the rule of law,” the report read.
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