bne IntelliNews – World Bank cuts doing business report under pressure from Bulgarian-born IMF chief to favor China

The World Bank decided to stop publishing its Doing Business report after an investigation found that Bulgarian-born International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Kristalina Georgieva and former Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Djankov put pressure on officials to keep China’s position in improve previous rankings.

Georgieva was the most popular EU Commissioner from Bulgaria and from 2014 to 2016 she was Vice-President of the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker. Georgieva then took on high-ranking positions in the World Bank Group and became the first CEO of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association on January 2, 2017. Georgieva was also acting President of the World Bank Group when the then President Dr. Jim Yong Kim resigned in early 2019.

Djankov, Minister of Finance in Bulgaria’s first Gerb government, was Georgieva’s advisor at the World Bank. He has been named one of the creators of the Doing Business Ranking.

“After reviewing all information available to date on doing business, including the results of past reviews, audits and the report the bank released today on behalf of the board, the management of the World Bank Group has decided to end the doing business,” said the Annual Report World Bank in a statement.

In an investigation into its report, the World Bank found that China’s position in the 2018 report should have been seven places below the 78th place it was assigned. According to the investigation, the country’s position has improved under pressure from Georgieva.

“The changes to China’s data in Doing Business 2018 appear to be the product of two different types of pressure exerted on the Doing Business team by bank executives,” the World Bank report said of the investigation.

The exploration was carried out by an independent third party company, WilmerHale.

It added that Georgieva and Dyankov insisted “making specific changes to China’s data points to improve its ranking right at the point when the country should play a key role in the bank’s capital increase campaign.”

It quoted an email from Georgieva telling the team responsible for the ranking to “make sure” [the team leader] deals with the question of where China will end up in the rankings … Jim [the then-president Dr. Jim Yong Kim] will not be happy if the declaration is not clear and there is no plan to manage the political side ”.

Later on, Georgieva was “directly involved in efforts to improve China’s ranking” and asked the team to change their criteria for defining China in the ranking. She also sharply criticized the team leader for “misguiding” the bank’s relations with China and failing to recognize the importance of the doing business report for the country.

Since the team insisted that the ranking could not be revised as the new criteria were not reliable, Georgieva directed Djankov to personally oversee the completion of the report.

“Mr. Djankov worked with Doing Business management to identify changes to China’s data that would increase the country’s score and improve its ranking,” the report said.

At that point, a small group within the team working on the Doing Business report found a technical solution that would allow China to improve its position in the ranking. Georgieva agreed and directed the team to make the changes.

Georgieva denied the allegations.

“I categorically disagree with the findings and interpretations of the data irregularity investigation related to my role in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report. I already had an initial briefing with the IMF Executive Board on the matter, ”she said in a statement.

Reuters reported that the IMF will examine the report.

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