Through a letter sent to the Chilean minister of Finance, Nicolás Eyzaguirre, the chief executive officer of the World Bank (WB), Kristalina Georgieva, discredited the entity’s chief economist, Paul Romer, and described as “unfortunate” the interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal, in which he assured that business competitiveness figures of the Doing Business Index had been altered to favour Sebastián Piñera’s first administration and to slander Michelle Bachelet’s two terms in office.
“It is unfortunate that Mr Paul Romer, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, has questioned the Doing Business rankings, in particular for Chile. This is not the view of World Bank management. We have full trust in the integrity of Bank research overall and are confident in the methodology”, the WB said.
Georgieva admitted that Romer’s remarks have upset Chilean authorities; hence, she affirmed that they “will do everything we can to assure our many clients and partners who rely on the quality and relevance of our research”.
In this way, the WB asked an independent entity to “objectively confirm that the methodology of Doing Business was appropriately applied in determining Chile’s ranking” and that they are to inform -as soon as they are clear on the matter- of the steps to follow.
Georgieva clarified that the index methodology was subject to a number of improvements by an independent panel of experts in 2012, almost 4 years before Mr Romer joined the WB.
Among the changes applied to the index, which affected all of its 11 indicators, the benchmarks used to measure efficiency of business regulation were expanded, including the introduction of an absolute measure of progress and the distance-to-frontier score, among others.
In the letter, Georgieva stated that, as the consultations “happened well before 2016”, Mr Romer has not had enough time -nor the opportunity- “to familiarize himself with the process that went into the report’s methodology overhaul”.
“We do not have any evidence to support the notion that the methodology is skewed to disfavor Chile or that any of the changes in methodology were conducted for any other than technical reasons and with the aim of improving the quality of the report”, the letter read.
According to the WB, Chile is an example to many countries due to its prosperity, economic success and stability and that its experience is not only important to them, but to an array of nations across the globe.
Thus, the WB is confident that Chile will allow them to “prove that Doing Business is
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