The Ease of Doing Business Report was discontinued by the World Bank due to findings that there was external pressure to alter the rankings of other countries. The last report to be published was in 2020 and ranked Eswatini 121 out of 190 economies.
By Avite Mbabazi
The World Bank Group has announced that the discontinued Ease of Doing Business Report will be replaced by the Business Enabling Environment Report.
The Ease of Doing Business Report was discontinued by the World Bank Group due to findings that there was external pressure to alter the rankings of other countries.
The report was introduced in 2003 to provide an assessment of objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies on ten parameters affecting a business through its life cycle.
In 2021, international law firm WilmerHale found that there were irregular changes to the data of China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Azerbaijan leading to the discontinuation of the Doing Business report by the World Bank.
Doing Business is an annual report by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) whose parent organization is the World Bank. The report contains the Ease of Doing Business ranking which ranks countries based on a number of indicators from 1-190 to determine the country with the most business-friendly regulations. In the latest edition, Doing Business 2020, Eswatini had fallen behind by 3 places to occupy position 121 out of 190 from 117 in 2019.
On 16 September 2021, however, the World Bank announced that due to improper changes to Doing Business reports for 2018 and 2020 there would be no further publication of the report until further investigations were carried out. In a statement issued by the World Bank Group, the group announced that “after reviewing all the information available to date on Doing Business, including the findings of past reviews, World Bank Group management has taken the decision to discontinue the Doing Business report.”
The World Bank will instead replace the Doing Business program with a new initiative that has been dubbed the “Business Enabling Environment” (BEE) and will build on the legacy of Doing Business, but promises higher ethical standards. In a post introducing this new approach on the World Bank’s website, they stated that to ensure transparency and accountability of the consultation process, all feedback received will be made publicly available.
According to the investigation findings report by WilmerHale, the lack of enforceable policies guiding the production of the Doing Business reports as well as a toxic culture is some of the notable factors that lead to the failings within the team.