The World Bank has corrected two recent reports ranking countries on ease of doing business, based on an internal audit following officials’ allegations of “undue pressure” by management to alter ratings, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
The bank’s changes to its ease of doing business reports for 2018 and 2020 has resulted in change of scores for four countries, including China, which also saw its ranking slip in one of the reports due to the correction.
India’s ranking, however, has remained unaffected.
In a review of its report published on December 16, World Bank said that in the 2018 report released in October 2017, China should have been shown dropping seven places to 85th rather than remaining 78th, as in the 2017 report.
“In Doing Business 2018, the published score including irregularities affecting the Starting a Business, Getting Credit, and Paying Taxes indicators was 65.3 with a global ranking of 78,” the World Bank said in its release. “After correcting the irregularities described above, the Doing Business 2018 score is 64.5.”
Similarly, after corrections to the 2020 report, released in October 2019, Saudi Arabia is no longer the top improving economy, while Azerbaijan moved up to become one of the top 10 improvers. The country’s 2020 ranking improved to 28, instead of its previous global ranking of 34.
Saudi Arabia’s global ranking slipped a spot to 63rd in the 2020 report, as compared to 62nd earlier. The United Arab Emirate’s position in the global ranking remained unchanged at 16, despite its score being slightly lowered.
Earlier, the irregularities were brought to the attention of the management of the Development Economics department of the World Bank, which announced a probe of the publication on August 27. Following this, the publication of the annual report was paused. The changes will be reflected in the next report due in March 2021.
Members of the team that put together the 2018 and 2020 reports cited “undue pressure”, both directly and indirectly, to manipulate data, reported Bloomberg, quoting the bank. However, the World Bank did not identify those responsible for the irregularities nor their possible motives. The issues, including possible misconduct by current or former bank staff, were reported to the institution’s internal accountability unit for further review.