The World Bank Group (WBG) has announced that it will pause the release of the next Doing Business report for 2021.
WBG said that the decision comes as data irregularities on the report’s 2018 and 2020 editions were reported internally in June 2020.
Accordingly, WBG announced that it had initiated 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,” according to the WBG.
It also asserted its commitment to advancing the role of the private sector in development and providing support to governments to design the regulatory environment that supports these areas.
Going forward, WBG will be working on a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate.
“Trust in the research of the WBG 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,” WBG explained.
According to the internal report of the investigation on these irregularities, which came out on Wednesday and was prepared by law firm WilmerHale at the request of the bank's ethics committee, the 2018 edition of the doing business report contained misinformation on China and its ranking in the report’s doing business index.
The internal report claimed that president of China had interfered to improve the ranking of China, which placed 78th – the same spot as in the 2017 edition of the report.
It also pointed to a role played directly by Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva – while she was the World Bank Chief Executive – through a meeting she held on 18 October with China’s country manager and the report leadership for this purpose.
Such action was taken by changing the methodology of the report, regarding China’s case specifically, according to the internal report.
In addition, the 2020 edition of the report contained an intervention to improve Saudi Arabia ranking so that it would be placed above Jordan in the index, rather than below.
Also, the same report featured irregularities in the placement of Azerbaijan.
Georgieva rejected the internal report's findings, saying "I disagree fundamentally with the findings and interpretations of the Investigation of Data Irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bank’s Doing Business report of 2018. I have already had an initial briefing with the IMF’s Executive Board on this matter.”
WBG’s Doing Business report is a project, which launched in 2002, provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level.