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World Bank: IMF chief denies changes in World Bank report to appease China – Times of India

Washington: IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva disputed an independent investigation on Thursday that found that at his previous job world Bank, he pressured employees to change a report to avoid angering China.
Based on the findings, the World Bank announced that it was immediately closing its Doing Business report after investigations found irregularities in the 2018 and 2020 editions.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian national who took charge of the International Monetary Fund in October 2019, dismissed its findings about her role.
“I fundamentally disagree with the findings and interpretations of the investigation into data irregularities as it relates to my role in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report,” he said in a statement.
The allegations could damage his reputation, and provide support for longtime US critics of multilateral organizations and their dealings with China.
“These are serious findings,” the US Treasury said in a statement, noting that it is “analyzing the report.”
“Our primary responsibility is to maintain the integrity of international financial institutions.”
Georgieva said she informed the IMF’s board of the situation. The board is expected to meet to discuss the issue but it is not clear when.
Justin Sandfur The Center for Global Development, who has written extensively about the problems with the report’s methodology, said: “We need to hear their side of the story, but it just doesn’t look great.”
“It is a very damaging allegation for the head of the IMF to be involved in data manipulation,” he told AFP. “It seems like a real hit on their credibility.”
The leading report ranks countries based on their trade rules and economic reforms, and prompts governments to jockey for a higher position to attract investors.
According to the investigation, Beijing complained about its ranking at 78th on the list in 2017, and next year’s report would have shown Beijing falling even further.
An employee of the Washington-based development lender was preparing for the 2018 edition while the leadership engaged in sensitive talks to increase its loan capital, hinged on a deal with China and the United States.
In the final weeks before the report’s release in late October 2017, Jim Kim, then-President of the World Bank, and Georgieva, then the bank’s CEO, asked employees to update the methodology regarding China, according to the investigation. Law firm WilmerHale.
Kim discussed the rankings with senior Chinese officials, who were dismayed by the country’s ranking, and his colleagues raised the issue of how to improve it, according to a summary of the investigation released by the World Bank.
It is believed to be one of Kim’s signature achievements that he struck a deal to increase the World Bank’s resources by $13 billion.
The deal required support from then US President Donald Trump, who had opposed concessional loans to China, and from Beijing, who agreed to pay more for the loan.
Amid pressure from upper management, employees turned over some of the input data that raised China’s ranking by seven places to 78 in 2018 — the same as last year, according to the investigation, which analyzed 80,000 documents and three more Interviewed more. A dozen current and former employees of the lender.
Georgieva reprimanded a senior World Bank official for “mishandling the bank’s relationship with China and failing to appreciate the importance of the Doing Business report for the country”.
After the changes were made, he thanked them for “playing their part for multilateralism”.
Georgieva later visited the home of the manager in charge of the report to obtain a copy, and thanked him for helping to “solve the problem”.
Nobel laureate Paul Romer, who then served as the World Bank’s chief economist, resigned in January 2018 after telling a reporter that the methodology for rankings had been changed to make it appear that political considerations influenced the results, particularly for Chile.
At the time, the World Bank strongly denied any political influence on the rankings.
Romer told AFP in an interview on Thursday that during his World Bank tenure he was unaware of Georgieva pushing staff on China, though he said he was “skeptical”.
Regarding the rankings, he said that when he raised those questions, “Kristalina engineered a cover-up, a whitewash.”
“I was reporting to people who lacked honesty. It was unbearable,” Roemer said. “The kind of threat described in this report was genuine.”
The investigation also found “inappropriate changes” in the 2020 report affecting the rankings of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan.
Nadia Dar, head of Oxfam International’s Washington office, praised the decision to quash the report, saying the index “encourages governments to adopt disastrous policies that worsen inequality.”


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