September 17, 2021

World Bank Halts Publishing ‘Doing Business’ Report Completely

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The World Bank has canceled a prominent report rating the business environment of the world’s countries after an investigation concluded that senior bank management pressured staff to alter data affecting the ranking some countries.

Launched in 2005, the report has long been viewed as a success, inspiring governments to improve the ability of businesses to get licenses, connect to electricity or pay taxes, which are all topics considered in the rankings.

Among the biggest features has been Rwanda. Government-instituted reforms were ranked yera-in-year-out among top in Afrca, competing with many emerging economies.

It is being reported that an internal World Bank review found senior bank management had pressured staff to change data that affected China and other nations’ rankings.

Rwandan government critics, based outside have repeatedly cast doubt over the data released by Kigali, alleging the figures pumped out to the world are “cooked”. They also say what is published by government is not reflective of situation on the ground.

The government for its part has argued the fact the the data is released by the World Bank, an independent international institution, was testament its data is sound.

The World Bank Group on Thursday (September 16) issued the following statement on the Doing Business report: 

“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.

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. In 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 Bank’s appropriate internal accountability mechanisms.  

After reviewing all the information available to date on Doing Business, including the findings of past reviews, audits, and the report the Bank released today on behalf of the Board of Executive Directors, 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. Going forward, we will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate. We are deeply grateful to the efforts of the many staff members who have worked diligently to advance the business climate agenda, and we look forward to harnessing their energies and abilities in new ways.”

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