By The Financial District
External Review Finds Deeper Rot in WB 'Doing Business' Rankings
Weeks before the World Bank (WB) scrapped its flagship Doing Business rankings following a damning independent probe, a group of external advisers recommended an overhaul of the rankings to limit countries' efforts to "manipulate their scores," Andrea Shalal reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: The World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., United States
An 84-page review, written by senior academics and economists, including the former Colombian finance minister, was published on the bank's website on Monday, about three weeks after it was submitted to World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart.
The WB on Thursday said it would cancel the "Doing Business" series on country business climates, citing internal audits and an independent probe that found senior WB leaders, including Kristalina Georgieva, who now heads the International Monetary Fund (IMF), pressured staff to alter data to favor China during her time as World Bank CEO. Georgieva has strongly denied the findings.
The review published on Monday was written by a group assembled by the WB in December 2020, after a series of internal audits revealed data irregularities in reports on China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Azerbaijan.
It calls for a series of remedial actions and reforms to address the "methodological integrity" of the Doing Business report, citing what it called "a pattern of government efforts to interfere" with scoring for the reports in past years.
The experts faulted the Doing Business series for lack of transparency about the underlying data and questionnaires used to calculate the rankings, called for a firewall between the Doing Business team and other WB operations, and creation of a permanent, external review board.
"We have been informed of multiple cases where national governments have attempted to manipulate the DB scores by exerting pressure on individual contributors," the report said, pointing to lawyers, accountants, or other professionals.
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