No more rankings, panel tells World Bank

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 4:45am

An independent panel set up by the World Bank to look at the validity of one of its highest-profile country reports said yesterday that the bank should stop producing headline rankings because they might be misleading.

The bank's annual "Doing Business" report judges 185 countries on 10 criteria and compiles an index on the ease of doing business, assigning each country a rank. The rankings can carry huge weight with governments.

The bank's new president, Jim Yong Kim, and the United States Treasury have said they are in favour of the rankings.

But the panel, initiated last year by Kim and headed by South Africa's Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, found that the rankings could too easily be affected by small factors and were sometimes not objective.

"The panel believes the bank should make a clean break with this practice," it said. "It is important to remember that the report is intended to be a pure knowledge project. As such, its role is to inform policy, not to prescribe it or outline a normative position, which the rankings to some extent do."

Singapore topped last year's rankings while the Central African Republic was bottom. Russian President Vladimir Putin last year declared a policy objective of raising the country's ranking to 20th by 2018 from the current 120th place.

While the US supported the rankings, China had pushed for getting rid of them, sources said, arguing that the World Bank should not rank its members. China was ranked No91 in the most recent report, prompting suspicions that its opposition was motivated by the low ranking.

The panel suggested assigning scores for each of the indicators for each country.