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Amid charges of political bias, World Bank to review Chile’s Ease of Doing Business ranking

The bank’s Chief Economist Paul Romer had said the changes in methodology might have contributed in the South American country’s decline in its position.

The World Bank on Saturday said it will conduct an external review of Chile’s indicators in the annual Ease of Doing Business competitiveness rankings in light of its Chief Economist Paul Romer’s remarks raising concerns over the authenticity of the report.

The Ease of Doing Business 2018 report was released in November 2017. India was ranked 100th among 190 countries in the global list for 2018, jumping 30 spots. Chile, which currently ranks 55th, came down from its 34th position in 2014. In 2015, the country was ranked 41st, 48th in 2016, and 57th in 2017, according to the the World Bank report.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Friday, Romer had apologised to Chile for changing the report’s methodology that conveyed the “wrong impression” about the business environment under socialist President Michelle Bachelet. “Based on the things we were measuring before, business conditions did not get worse in Chile under the Bachelet administration,” he said, adding that the World Bank staff’s political motivations may have also affected the country’s result.

Bachelet, whose term ends in March, criticised the World Bank for unfairly treating the country. “What happened with the World Bank’s competitiveness rankings is very concerning,” Bachelet said on Twitter. “Given the gravity of what has happened, the government will request formally to the bank to conduct a full investigation. The rankings that administer international institutions must be reliable, since they have an impact on investment and the development of the countries.”

In its statement, the World Bank said the indicators for the Doing Business ranking are based on hard data, such as actual tax rates and legislation passed. “It is important to note that we treat all countries equally in our research, and the Doing Business indicators and methodology are designed with no single country in mind but so that the overall business climate can be improved...Objective data is not subject to political influence,” the statement said.

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