Citing pressure from China and other countries keen on getting a favorable global rating, the World Bank has stopped publishing the Ease of Doing Business Report.
The global lender’s investigation into data irregularities cited “direct and indirect pressure” meted on the bank chiefs, including then CEO Kristalina Georgieva to boost China’s ranking in the 2017 edition of “Doing Business” survey.
The World Bank noted that an internal audit raised “ethical matters, including the conduct of former board officials as well as current and or former bank staff” in an investigation carried out by law firm Wilmer Hale.
The audit revealed that Ms Georgieva, who’s now heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), implored on the top bank staff to “make specific changes to China’s data points” in effect boosting its ranking at a time when the World Bank was lobbying the Asian economic giant for huge capital injection.
As a result, the bank’s “Doing Business 2018” survey which came out in October 2017, saw China move up seven places to 78th, compared with the initial draft, a change that was attributable to the adoption of new data methodology used.
Following the damning revelations, Ms Georgieva noted: “I disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations of the investigation of data irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bank’s Doing Business report of 2018. I have already had an initial briefing with the IMF’s Executive Board on this matter.”
Further investigation into lobbying for a ‘better score’ by a number of countries that were uncomfortable with their low rankings has also flagged Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Azerbaijan.
In five years of the report, Kenya’s ranking in the ease of doing business also improved significantly from position 136 of 190 to 56.
Nevertheless, the index has lacked consensus on the ground as multiple industries lament increased difficulties in doing business from high cost of production, heavy electricity bills and irregular taxation.