The World Bank Group’s announcement that an independent internal audit is being conducted of the process of data collection with regards to the World Bank Group Doing Business Report is welcomed by Fiji. 

The World Bank Group announced on 27 August 2020, that it is undertaking assessment of data changes occurring during review process for the past five years. 

The Group has also announced a pause to the upcoming 2021 Doing Business Report, set to be published by 28 October 2020. 

“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,” added the Chair. Over the past 2 years, the Fijian Government had undertaken significant reforms and introduced new legislations that has enhanced doing business processes.

These reforms mainly focused on the improvement and digitalization of processes related to starting a business, obtaining construction permits, paying taxes, getting credit, to name a few. “It was, however, noted that these reforms have not been correctly recorded, acknowledged or attributed to Fiji”, said Mr Ali. 

The Chair further stated that a good example, is the Registrar of Companies (ROC) online system, which was launched on 14 June 2019. As of 31 July 2020, at total of 19,277 businesses registered, of which 82 percent used the online system. Whilst, the 18 percent walk-in customers, were still required to use the online system to register their business.

However, the World Bank Group still maintains that their “private sector experts” claim that online system is not the preferred mode of registration for businesses in Fiji. “Fiji is happy with the decision of the World Bank Group to audit the Doing Business survey methodology and data.

This audit, we hope, will enable the Doing Business Team to better understand the reforms and its implementation” said the Chair. 

As the Chair of the Taskforce, Mr Ali acknowledged the independent advisory support provided by the separate arm of the World Bank Group, through Mr Shihab Azhar, Senior Private Sector Specialist and the local WBG/IFC Representatives, led by Mr. Deva De Silva. 

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