Fact-checking Oli’s claim regarding Nepal’s ranking on development indexesIn contradiction to Oli’s claim, Nepal sits near the bottom on numerous indexes, including the Human Development Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that Nepal’s position on any of the socio-political indexes around the world is not “negative”. Emphasising Nepal’s improvement on the World Bank’s Doing Business Index and the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Oli said that Nepal hasn’t reached a point where the country needs to lament sliding down any rankings.
While it is certainly true that Nepal’s position rose 16 places from 110 in 2018 to 94 in 2019 on the Doing Business Index, the rating itself has been met with criticism for “not being credible” and its “questionable methodological changes”. A ranking of 94 out of 190 countries is not negative but it is not wholly positive either—it is a middling ranking.
Even if we consider the “doing business” index a measure Nepal’s progress, the country is still poorly ranked, in 135th position, when it comes to starting a business. The country has made things more difficult, according to the World Bank, by requiring an in-person follow-up for employee registration for social security.
While Oli has argued that this improvement in ranking is the outcome of a robust “rule of law”, the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law index places Nepal 59 out of 126 countries—again a mediocre ranking.
Other global indicators do not paint a rosy picture of Nepal either.
On the Human Development Index, Nepal ranked 147 out of 189 countries in 2018, securing 0.579 value, according to UNDP’s 2019 report. This is a negligible increase of 0.005 from 2017 and 0.007 from 2016, with Nepal still trailing most South Asian countries.
The country is ranked 115 out of 167 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index as of 2019. But despite a rise of 13 spots from 2009, Nepal is still the 22nd poorest out of 29 countries in Asia-Pacific.
On the 2019 Social Progress Index, Nepal ranks at 99 out of 149 countries. This is a two-point rise from 2018 when Nepal was ranked 101th and eight-point slump from 2017, when Nepal was ranked 91st out of 128 countries.
The Global Hunger Index puts Nepal in 73rd position out of 117 qualifying countries. “With a score of 20.8, Nepal suffers from a level of hunger that is serious,” the index report notes.
Moreover, Nepal is the worst performer in economic competitiveness in South Asia, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. To calculate competitiveness, the Forum took into account factors such as the state of institutions, policies and factors that determine an economy’s productivity. This assessment contradicts Oli’s claim that regarding rule of law in Nepal.
Besides the World Bank’s unreliable and widely-criticised “Doing Business” Index, there has not been any significant increase in Nepal’s position in numerous indexes issued from around the world.Oli’s claim that Nepal’s rank is not negative is yet another addition to his record of trading in half-truths.