Cut taxes and do not impose minimum wages or competition laws - this is the advice given by the compilers of the Index of Economic Freedom, who confirmed Hong Kong as the world's freest economy yesterday. Hong Kong claimed the top spot for the 14th straight year, but the gap between its archrival - second-place Singapore - narrowed slightly, according to the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank which compiled the index with The Wall Street Journal. The findings announced yesterday measured 157 economies from July 1, 2006 to June 30 last year across 10 areas of economic freedom on a scale of zero to 100. Kim Holmes, a foreign specialist for the foundation, suggested the government return money to taxpayers in light of an estimated budget surplus of more than HK$100 billion in the current financial year. Mary Kissel, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia, added that Hong Kong would lose points if the government were to set any price controls, such as a minimum wage. 'Hong Kong is also well known for its competitiveness,' she said. 'I wonder if it needs a competition law for the government to identify good markets and bad markets.' Hong Kong scored 90.3, slightly down from last year's 90.6. It maintains a lead over Singapore, which improved 0.2 points to score 87.4. 'Hong Kong scores exceptionally well in almost all areas of economic freedom,' said Terry Miller, director of the foundation's Centre for International Trade and Economics. 'It does drop a bit in monetary freedom because of the small increase in inflation rates. 'But Singapore actually scores better than Hong Kong in five of the 10 areas,' he said, adding that Singapore fell behind only in the category of financial freedom because of state control of the banking sector. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government was determined to uphold Hong Kong's position as the freest economy in the world. 'We see the role of the government as a facilitator to provide a business-friendly environment and an appropriate regulatory regime for a free market,' he said. Of the 10 sub-indices, Hong Kong ranked first in trade, fiscal, investment and financial freedom. The mainland, which ranked 126th, was classified as 'mostly unfree'.