World Bank Group suspends Doing Business reportMove follows an internal investigation that revealed data irregularities.
The World Bank Group has decided to discontinue its Doing Business report after an internal investigation revealed data irregularities that undermined reforms leading to reduction in scores of China, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan in the 2018 and 2020 reports.
Issuing a statement on Thursday, the World Bank Group announced an end to the Doing Business report. The bank said it would be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate.
The Doing Business report ranks countries based on their regulatory and legal environments, ease of business startups, financing, infrastructure and other business climate measures.
“Trust in the research of the World Bank Group is vital. World Bank Group research informs the actions of policymakers, helps countries make better-informed decisions, and allows stakeholders to measure economic and social improvements more accurately. Such research has also been a valuable tool for the private sector, civil society, academia, journalists, and others, broadening understanding of global issues,” said the World Bank.
After data irregularities on Doing Business 2018 and 2020 were reported internally in June 2020, World Bank management paused the next Doing Business report and initiated a series of reviews and audits of the report and its methodology.
The multilateral funding agency said that after reviewing all the information available to date on Doing Business, including the findings of past reviews, audits, the World Bank Group management has taken the decision to discontinue the Doing Business report.
“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,” it said. “Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate.”
According to Reuters, the World Bank leaders, including then chief executive Kristalina Georgieva, applied "undue pressure" on staff to boost China's ranking in the bank's "Doing Business 2018" report, according to an independent investigation released on Thursday.
The report, prepared by law firm WilmerHale at the request of the bank's ethics committee, raises concerns about China's influence at the World Bank, and the judgment of Georgieva, now managing director of the International Monetary Fund and then World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
Georgieva told Reuters she disagreed "fundamentally with the findings and interpretations" of the report and had briefed the IMF's executive board.
The US Treasury Department, which manages the dominant US shareholdings in the IMF and the World Bank, said it was analysing what it called the "serious findings."
The WilmerHale report cited "direct and indirect pressure" from senior staff in Kim's office to change the report's methodology to boost China's score, and said it likely occurred at his direction.
It said Georgieva, and a key adviser, Simeon Djankov, had pressured staff to "make specific changes to China's data points" and boost its ranking at a time when the bank was seeking China's support for a big capital increase.