By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept 20: An influential report published on Thursday revealed that ex-World Bank top officials had pressured staffs to boost China’s score in the “Doing Business” index, that ranks countries and directs investors where to invest their money. An investigation by law firm WilmerHale, at the request of the World Bank’s Ethics committee, found that World Bank chiefs including Kristalina Georgieva had applied “undue pressure” to boost China’s scores.
Kristalina Georgieva, now the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said that she disagreed “fundamentally with the findings and interpretations” of the investigation. At the time, the Washington-based World Bank was seeking China’s support for a big capital increase.
Advocacy group Tax Justice Network’s CEO Alex Cobham welcomed the report by the ethics committee on Twitter, “The bigger question is how, if it is even possible, the Bank can eliminate the apparent corruption of the institution.” The United Arab Emirates (UAE) which ranked 16th in the latest 2020 report was hoping to ace the ranking in 2021, whereas Russia climbed up the rankings to 28th in 2020 from 120th rank in 2011.
“Any quantitative model of country risk has built this into ratings. Money and investments are allocated on the back of this series,” said Tim Ash, Europe’s BlueBay Asset Management, adding that the reports published since 2003 had become important for banks and businesses around the world.
The World Bank Group on Thursday cancelled the entire “Doing Business” report on business climates, as it noted that the internal audits and the WilmerHale investigation had raised “ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials, as well as current and/or former Bank staff.” According to the investigation, China’s ranking in the “Doing Business 2018” report rose seven places to 78th after the methodology changes were made.