World Bank survey finds IMF chief urged staff to improve China’s ranking


World Bank Updates

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has been accused by a World Bank investigation of leading efforts to artificially raise China’s ranking in the lender’s influential annual Doing Business report.

The allegations relate to the time when she was managing director of the World Bank and overseeing its efforts to raise new capital from stakeholders, including China.

Georgieva said she fundamentally disagrees with the accusation, contained in a report commissioned by the bank from law firm WilmerHale. It was presented internally on Wednesday and released by the World Bank board on Thursday.

The bank also said Thursday that it had halted the publication of Doing Business due to ethical concerns about the conduct of current and former staff involved in its preparation.

The WilmerHale report found that in the 2018 edition of Doing Business, China’s overall ranking was artificially maintained at 78 – the same as the year before – due to late changes that dropped its position from 85.

The report alleges that Georgieva led efforts to improve China’s ranking at a time when it was “absorbed” by a campaign to secure a capital raise for the World Bank.

He said that in the run-up to Doing Business 2018, senior Chinese government officials “repeatedly expressed their concerns” to then-World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and other senior officials in China. the bank as the ranking of the country has not faithfully reflected its economic reforms ”.

WilmerHale said attempts were made days before the release of Doing Business 2018 to raise China’s ranking from 85, including incorporating data for Hong Kong into its scores. When these efforts did not yield the desired results, according to the report, Georgieva “became directly involved”.

The law firm’s report, Investigation of Data Irregularities, alleged that Georgieva asked Simeon Djankov, one of the founders of Doing Business, to guide the report until its publication and that Djankov had subsequently “worked with the leadership of Doing Business to identify changes in China’s data that would increase the country’s score and increase its ranking ”.

He said three indicators of business conditions – starting a business, obtaining legal rights and paying taxes – have been changed, raising China’s score by nearly one point and raising its ranking by seven places to 78.

In a statement released by the IMF, Georgieva said, “I fundamentally disagree with the findings and interpretations of Investigation of Data Irregularities regarding my role in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report. already had a first briefing with the IMF board on this issue.

WilmerHale’s report also alleges irregularities in the preparation for Doing Business 2020, in which it claims Saudi Arabia has been artificially promoted to number one on its list of top improvers, ahead of Jordan.

Justin Sandefur of the think tank Center for Global Development, a longtime critic of the Doing Business reports, said WilmerHale’s claims matched his own critique of the report for its overly subjective and flimsy methodology.

“The standings jumped like crazy, even when nothing changed on the pitch,” he said. “When you have so many judgment calls, and with such enormous political pressure on the report, you have a recipe for manipulation.”

Sandefur is one of six academics commissioned to present recommendations on how to improve Doing Business to Carmen Reinhart, Chief Economist of the World Bank. He said he expected the results, presented two weeks ago, to be made public in the coming days.

The World Bank said Thursday it is committed to advancing the role of the private sector in development and will work on “a new approach to assess the business and investment climate.”

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