Bulgaria's economic freedom is hampered by still-low judicial effectiveness and government integrity and the country is barely clinging to the 'mostly free' status, U.S.-based think-tank The Heritage Foundation said.
In order for Bulgaria to improve its overall economic freedom, the government will have to implement reforms addressing the additional deficiencies that are reflected in the country’s judicial effectiveness and government integrity scores, The Heritage Foundation said in the latest issue of its Index of Economic Freedom published earlier this week.
According to The Heritage Foundation, the judiciary remains one of Bulgaria’s least trusted institutions, and allegations of nepotism, corruption, and undue political and business influence are widespread. Higher-level corruption, particularly in public procurement and the use of EU funds, is likewise widespread, the think-tank added.
However, Bulgaria climbed one place to the 35th spot out of 178 countries for which data is available in the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom. The country's overall economic freedom score rose by 0.2 points to 70.4, primarily due to an improved tax burden score, The Heritage Foundation said.
Bulgaria is ranked 20th among 45 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages, the think-tank added.
The index measures economic freedom in 12 areas - from property rights to entrepreneurship - through 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories: rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets.
Bulgaria performed best in the size of government category, with its highest scores in the tax burden indicator. The overall tax burden equals 20.2% of total domestic income, while public debt is equivalent to 20.4% of GDP.