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Just get a whiff of that fiscal freedom

Just get a whiff of that fiscal freedom

Mel Gibson would love it here, thinks Kipp. We’re big on freedom. Fiscal freedom, that is. In fact we’re top of the world.

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January 13, 2011 2:22 by



It’s not often we cram Mel Gibson into an article, but it seemed a good way to get started so bear with us. The Australian nutcase is big on freedom, to judge from his hit film Braveheart, and according to the latest headlines the UAE has plenty of it.

At least, it does in a fiscal sense. Reports this week say the UAE has been rated as the fiscally freest economy in the world (jointly with Kuwait). That’s according to the delightfully official-sounding 2011 Index of Economic Freedom from the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

“But Kipp,” we hear you plead, “what on earth is the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom? And do we win a prize?” Patience, dear reader; here’s the lowdown: The Index covers 183 countries and ranks them relating to 10 specific freedoms that include: trade freedom, business freedom, fiscal freedom, investment freedom, government spending, property rights, monetary freedom, financial freedom, freedom from corruption and labour freedom.

We’ve topped the fiscal index (along with pesky Kuwait), which is a measure of the tax burden imposed by government. We scored 99.9 out of a 100, apparently. Probably got marked down for spelling our name wrong or something, thinks Kipp. Oh no, wait – we do have the odd tax, and overall tax revenue was 1.8 percent of GDP, which presumably lost us that 0.01 percent.

And would you believe, the top six spots in this category are filled by other GCC countries: Along with us and Kuwait are Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

What about the larger Index, and our overall score? Well, for some reason in the total rankings (that take into account property rights and labour freedom among others), the UAE scores only 67.8 out of 100. A mystery, really. But it’s enough to make us 47th freest economy in the world – right up there in the top 50. Not bad for a young Gulf upstart. Pity Bahrain decided to rub it in by grabbing the last slot in the top 10.

In case you’re interested, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand grabed the top four spots.



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