Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria. Picture: GCIS
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria. Picture: GCIS

Santiago — Chilean officials on Saturday criticised the World Bank, saying it treated the South American country unfairly in its closely watched annual Doing Business competitiveness rankings.

"What happened with the World Bank’s competitiveness rankings is very concerning," socialist President Michelle Bachelet, whose four-year term ends in March, wrote on Twitter after the World Bank’s chief economist apologised for Chile’s slippage in the rankings.

"Rankings that international institutions conduct should be trustworthy, since they impact investment and countries’ development," Bachelet wrote, adding that the government would formally request a World Bank investigation.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Friday, World Bank chief economist Paul Romer apologised to Chile for changes to the report’s methodology, which he said "conveyed the wrong impression" about the business environment under Bachelet.

Chile ranks 55th out of 190 countries on the list in 2018, down from 34th in 2014, the year Bachelet took office. Its ranking declined to 41st in 2015, 48th in 2016, and 57th in 2017, the World Bank’s reports show.

Romer said the decline resulted from methodological changes rather than a deterioration of Chile’s business environment and might have been the result of the World Bank staff’s political motivations.

In a statement on Saturday, the World Bank said it would "conduct an external review" of Chile’s indicators in light of Romer’s concerns.

It said any changes to its methodology underwent "a rigorous consultative process" and the indicators were based on "hard data" like tax rates and legislation passed.

Chile is one of Latin America’s wealthiest and most stable countries.


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