Pakistan suffers blow as WB discontinues EODB reports

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank’s (WB) decision to pause the report for some irregularities in their data has caused disappointment Pakistan, which was expecting a major improvement in the ease of doing business (EODB) index this year by jump in the next report to improve the current ranking of 108th to 75th position this year.

For getting improvements in the index, officials claim, the country was taking every step introducing reforms in government institutions facilitating the business.

“However, the WB suddenly decided to discontinue the reporting and go for a new approach to assess the business and investment climate,” officials at ministry of commerce said. 

The bank’s decision is based on a 16-page investigative report which says four countries manipulated their rankings in 2017 and 2018 reports.

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“After data irregularities on doing business in 2018 and 2020 were reported internally in June 2020, World Bank management paused the next EODB report and initiated a series of reviews and audits of the report and its methodology,” the bank said in a statement.

“In addition, because internal reports raised ethical matters, including the conduct of former Board officials as well as current and/or former bank staff, management reported the allegations to the bank’s appropriate internal accountability mechanisms,” the statement added.  

In January this year, the World Bank group carried out investigations to review the internal circumstances at the bank that contributed to the data irregularities identified in the Doing Business 2018 and 2020 reports. Investigations were made to understand how improper changes to the data for China and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Azerbaijan were effected, and who at the bank directed, implemented, or knew about the changes to the data and how their direction or pressure manifested; and what internal circumstances whether related to policies, personnel, or culture, allowed for the changes to take place.

It may be mentioned here that during the last two years, Pakistan had advanced 39 places to secure 108th place on the ease of doing business global ranking. The companies’ registration through SECP has shown a 63 per cent growth and 99 per cent of these registrations were done online while 45 per cent applicants were issued registration certificates on the same day.

Last month, the BoI in collaboration with the World Bank Group launched the Seventh ‘Reform Action Plan’ which focused on improvements in firm entry regulations, reliability of electricity, tax regulations, trade regulations, creditors’ rights, better property rights, and court efficiency, etc., as reforms in these areas play a major role in accelerating economic development.

The concerted effort of the BoI and federal and provincial agencies has resulted in implementation of major reforms that are resolving decades-old grievances of the private sector.

One of the most noticeable reforms has been the promulgation of commercial courts in Punjab. The milestone initiative brings down the dispute resolution from 1,000 to 180 days.

Similarly, Pakistan has joined the league of fewer than 10 jurisdictions globally that offer single certification system. The single certificate can be applied at the SECP portal. Digitisation of land records is another landmark reform that eliminates on ground inspection by introduction of Geographical Inspection System.

The WB says: “Trust in the research of the World Bank Group is vital. World Bank Group research informs the actions of policymakers, helps countries make better-informed decisions, and allows stakeholders to measure economic and social improvements more accurately. Such research has also been available tool for the private sector, civil society, academia, journalists, and others, broadening understanding of global issues.

 

 

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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