The Multilateralist

India’s least favorite World Bank report

India’s least favorite World Bank report

The BRICS countries are summitting next week in South Africa, and the festivities will focus on the optimistic themes of "partnership, integration and industrialization." The BRICS may be a rising force in international economics but, at least according to the World Bank, they’re still pretty bad at helping small businesses get off the ground.

Via the annual Doing Business report, the Bank and the International Finance Corporation track the regulatory and other obstacles small businesses face and rank countries accordingly. In the latest version of the report, only new BRICS member South Africa scored decently, coming in at 39 out of 185. China ranked 91st, Russia was 112, Brazil tagged behind at 130, and India pulled up the rear at 132.    

The poor BRICS showing—and what their representatives claim are methodological problems—has led several members to question whether the Bank should give the report its imprimatur. A few years ago, Brazil’s World Bank representative was particularly critical. Now, India appears to be leading the charge. Speaking in Washington, an Indian finance ministery official recently reiterated Delhi’s concerns:

Arvind Mayaram, Secretary at the Department of Economic Affairs in the Indian government’s Finance Ministry, said during a speech here that the methodology adopted by the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, in which India was ranked 132 out of 185, was “not proper” and that the Indian government had formally written a letter of complaint to the Bank to this effect. Speaking at the Indian embassy here, Mr. Mayaram said: “I think that the methodology used by institutions like the World Bank have to be much more robust… There is an issue”.