The Fiji government has welcomed the World Bank’s decision to pause publication of its 2021 Doing Business Report.
In a statement released last week, The World Bank said a number of irregularities had been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports.
“We are conducting a systematic review and assessment of data changes that occurred subsequent to the institutional data review process for the last five Doing Business reports,” the Bank says in its August 27th statement.
“We have asked the World Bank Group’s independent Internal Audit function to perform an audit of the processes for data collection and review for Doing Business and the controls to safeguard data integrity.”
While the Bank does not specify what data changes occurred, international media have reported it relates to four countries-none of them in the South Pacific.
However Fiji has long been critical of the report.
"Fiji has been raising concerns for a number of years on the authenticity and the manner in which the survey for the Doing Business Report is being conducted", said Shaheen Ali, Chair of the Doing Business Taskforce. "The Fijian Government at various levels had indicated to the World Bank Group that there were data errors in the Fijian Reports. Through these consultations, the World Bank Group worked closely with the Ministry and the Taskforce to identify errors."
The Government believes impovements to business processes, including digitalisation, construction permits and taxes, have not been adequately recognised.
Fiji’s Ease of Doing Business ranking dropped one place, to 102 (of 190 countries ranked) in the 2019/2020 report. Papua New Guinea’s ranking declined further to 120th position (from 108 the previous year). Marshall Island ranked 153, Kiribati 164, the Federated States of Micronesia 158, Palau 145, Samoa 98, Tonga 103 and Vanuatu 107th.