Happiness linked to Economic Freedom? Historic Conference in Bhutan

Happiness linked to Economic Freedom? Historic Conference in Bhutan
Happiness linked to Economic Freedom? Historic Conference in Bhutan

For the first time, the Economic Freedom Network Asia (EFN Asia) held its annual conference in Bhutan. The two days event brought together leading experts, advocates as well as policy makers and provided a unique platform for discussions on “Economic Freedom as a way to happiness”. Foreign and local speakers identified key challenges facing Bhutan and the Asian region related to the path to happiness through the promotion of economic freedom, equitable development in an ever changing global environment.

“To discuss happiness in this country is highly befitting”, said the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s (FNF) Regional Director Dr. Meinardus in his welcoming remarks. The Bhutanese authorities are keen on promoting and measuring happiness domestically and also in international fora. Why does economic freedom make you happier? This question stood at the center of the debates. “People want to make choices, it’s part of human nature”, said Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute. The Canada-based institute is the main driving force behind the Economic Freedom of the World Report, which for the first time also included a ranking for Bhutan. For the Himalayan Kingdom, the figures in the report are favorable. Ranked as the 87th freest economy among 157 countries, the degree of economic freedom in Bhutan is the best among all South Asian nations. For the Economic Affairs Ministry’s joint secretary, Sonam P Wangdi, this did not come as a surprise: “We are happy with the ranking. But more than this, improving the investment climate is more important for us,” he said.

“The data reflect a fantastic story”, said Sunil Rasaily, founding partner of Bhutan’s liberal think tank QED, who partnered with the Bhutanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom to make this conference a memorable event.

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