World Bank’s Kim Is Committed to ‘Doing Business’ Report

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said he’s committed to continuing a report that ranks countries based on how business-friendly they are after he received early conclusions of an independent review.

The annual “Doing Business” publication, which non-profit groups including Oxfam have criticized and governments including India have reportedly objected to, is part of the bank’s core mission of ending poverty and is sought by member countries, Kim said in an e-mailed statement today. He said the panel had made “valuable suggestions” on how to improve it.

“It is indisputable that ‘Doing Business’ has been an important catalyst in driving reforms around the world,” Kim said after a meeting with the bank’s board of directors and Trevor Manuel, a former South African finance minister who chaired the independent panel. “I am committed to the ‘Doing Business’ report, and rankings have been part of its success.”

Kim appointed the outside panel in October, citing “issues that have been raised by policy makers, executive directors and other stakeholders” about the 10-year-old report. In recommendations to the auditors, aid groups including Oxfam said the report reflects a model that doesn’t serve the needs of most of developing countries’ businesses and called for the removal of one of its indicators.

India’s Rebuke

India’s Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram, whose country ranked 132nd in the 2013 report, in a March speech said the methodology of the ranking was “not proper” and that the government had written a letter of complaint to the bank, according to The Hindu newspaper.

“I will be pushing World Bank Group staff to focus their efforts on improving all aspects of ‘Doing Business,’ including its data, methodology, and rankings,” Kim said today. This year’s report will go ahead as planned, he said.

Topping the report’s 2013 edition, published in October last year, was Singapore, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.S. Farther down the list was China, the world’s second-largest economy, which was ranked 91st, behind No. 76 Mongolia, 83rd-ranked Moldova and Albania in the 85th position.

The rankings “serve as an important benchmarking tool at a time when all of us are focused on supporting demand and job creation,” Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Treasury Department, said in an e-mailed statement. The U.S. wants to help “ensure that it continues to be a valuable tool for economies across the globe,” she said.

U.S. Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an e-mailed statement that Kim showed “real leadership in maintaining the integrity” of the report.

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