The World Bank Group announced on Thursday that it was discontinuing the âDoing Business reportâ after data regularities were discovered in its Doing Business 2018 and 2020.
In an investigation of Data Irregularities in Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 report, law firm WilmerHale discovered irregularities in data for China, Saudi Arabia and UAE, and Azerbaijanâs placement in the Doing Business reports.
In a statement on its website, the World Bank said, âTrust in the research of the World Bank Group is vital. World Bank Groupâ¯research informs the actions of policymakers,â¯helps countriesâ¯make better-informed decisions,â¯andâ¯allows stakeholders to measure economic and socialâ¯improvements more accurately.
âSuchâ¯research has also been aâ¯valuable toolâ¯forâ¯the private sector,â¯civil society, academia,â¯journalists, and others, broadening understanding of global issues. âAfterâ¯data irregularities on Doing Business 2018 and 2020 were reportedâ¯internally in June 2020, World Bank managementâ¯pausedâ¯the next Doing Business report andâ¯initiatedâ¯a series ofâ¯reviewsâ¯andâ¯auditsâ¯of the report and its methodology.
âIn addition, because the internal reports raised ethical matters, including the conduct of former board officials as well as current and/or former bank staff, management reported the allegations to the bankâs appropriate internal accountability mechanisms.
âAfter reviewing all the information available to date on Doing Business, including the findings ofâ¯past reviews, audits, and the report the bank released today on behalf of the Board of Executive Directors, World Bank Groupâ¯managementâ¯has taken the decision toâ¯discontinue theâ¯Doing Business report.
âThe 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.
âGoing forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate.â
The investigation findings and reports by WilmerHale submitted to the World Bank executive directors said, âThe changes to Chinaâs 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: (1) pressure â both direct and indirect â applied by senior staff in the Office of the President, presumably at the direction of President Kim, to change the reportâs methodology in an effort to boost Chinaâs score; and (2) pressure applied by CEO Georgieva and her advisor, Mr Djankov, to make specific changes to Chinaâs data points in an effort to increase its ranking at precisely the same time the country was expected to play a key role in the bankâs capital increase campaign.â
The report said that the changes to Saudi Arabiaâs and UAEâs data in âDoing Business 2020â was likely as the result of efforts by a senior member of the World Bankâs staff to achieve a desired outcome and reward Saudi Arabia for the important role it played in the bankâs community, including an ongoing RAS project.
As regards Azerbaijan, the report said, âThe chain of cause-and-effect is more direct with respect to the data changes affecting Azerbaijan in Doing Business 2020: Mr Djankov ordered the Doing Business team to alter the countryâs data based on his own belief that the country had not actually implemented the reforms the Doing Business team had credited.
âIndeed, multiple employees told us that Mr Djankov appeared to harbor a personal animus against the country, unwilling to believe that the reforms the Doing Business team recognised â and confirmed â were legitimate.
âDespite the teamâs effort to convince him otherwise, Mr Djankov overruled the team and demanded that it refrain from recognising three Azeri reforms in Doing Business 2020.â
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva who was the World Bankâs Chief Executive Officer at the time has been called out by the bank for applying pressure to boost Chinaâs position in a ranking of economies, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement responding to the allegations, Georgieva âI disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations of the Investigation of Data Irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bankâs Doing Business report of 2018.â
She added that she had already had an initial briefing with the IMFâs executive board on the matter.