By John Ikani
The World Bank Group on Thursday announced that it has discontinued the publishing of its ‘Doing Business’ Report after 18 years – the first edition was published in 2003.
The doing business index measured regulations directly affecting the ease of doing businesses in 190 countries.
Why the World Bank is discontinuing its Doing Business Report
The announcement comes on the heels of an investigation of Data Irregularities in Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 Report, where law firm WilmerHale, discovered irregularities in data for China, Saudi Arabia and UAE, and Azerbaijan’s placement in the Doing Business reports.
Excerpts from the investigation findings and reports by WilmerHale submitted to the World Bank Executive Directors, revealed that the changes to China’s data in Doing Business 2018, appear to be the product of two distinct types of pressure applied by the Bank leadership on the Doing Business team.
According to the report, pressure – both direct and indirect – was applied by senior staff in the Office of the President, presumably at the direction of then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to change the report’s methodology in an effort to boost China’s score.
The report noted that pressure was also applied by CEO Georgieva and her Advisor, Mr Djankov, to make specific changes to China’s data points to increase its ranking at precisely the same time the country was expected to play a key role in the bank’s capital increase campaign.
The global financier added that the report also raised concerns around ethical matters such as the conduct of former Board officials as well as current and/or former Bank staff, management to the Bank’s appropriate internal accountability mechanisms served as a contributory factor.
The corporation has however initiated a series of reviews and audits of the report and its methodology while reiterating its commitment to support the government and boosting the role of the private sector in the business environment and the economy.
“The World Bank Group remains firmly committed to advancing the role of the private sector in development and providing support to governments to design the regulatory environment that supports this. Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate,” it stated.
The ease of doing business report which has been published for the past 17 years has been a valuable tool for many countries to examine their business environment while providing recommendations through indicators and methodology to help countries improve their general business environment.