WEDNESDAY, 27 JULY 2022: When the World Bank cancelled its Doing Business report last year, it created a massive information void for economists and governments seeking to spur economic growth and reduce poverty, argues Simeon Djankov in a new study charting how to revive the report and released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Each year successful developed countries topped the rankings but, due partly to the report, many poorer countries were catching up and improving their business environment”, said Dr Djankov, who is policy director of the Financial Markets Group at the London School of Economics and founder of the Doing Business report.

The Doing Business report, established in 2003, measured the efficiency of government regulation in jurisdictions worldwide, analyzing whether they created barriers to investment and prosperity.

According to the Center for Market Education (CME), which is an institutional partner of Fraser Institute, a proposal to revive the World Bank’s Doing Business report—a measure of a nation’s attractiveness to investment—could be great news for Malaysia. Malaysia had climbed to the top ranks of Doing Business report when it was abruptly cancelled by the World Bank last year.

Now the creator of the report, Simeon Djankov, has charted a path forward for Doing Business. The report helped make Malaysia a magnet for investment. Malaysia ranked 2nd in Southeast Asia and 12th in the world, ahead, for example, of Australia at 14th, in Doing Business.

The report was by far the most cited globally on business climate. It not only advertised to the world Malaysia’s businesses attractiveness, but helped create it by providing policy makers with a report card on where Malaysia was doing well and where it needed improvement.

“After two years of contradictory policies, both in Malaysia and in the region, it is important to re-establish an index able to catch if Malaysia is still among the leaders in the region or if it was overcome by countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam”, said Dr Carmelo Ferlito, CEO of CME.

CME supports the proposal included in the Fraser Institute study, in particular where it recommends that a consortium of universities should revive the report, but with several key improvements including:

  • revise assumptions about administrative and judicial procedures and documents to reflect the advance on electronic document transfer
  • restore the labour regulation indictor
  • develop an indicator on the positive function of government
  • distinguish between law and practice and develop a parallel set of indicators on the practice of regulation.

“It’s well worth the effort to resurrect the Doing Business report, reflect on what we know now and what answers remain elusive, and address these questions with existing scholarship or new research”, Djankov said.

“I am pretty sure that a new 2022 report would show some surprises in Southeast Asia; furthermore, it could become the compass for Malaysia for a new policy season characterized by market-friendly and open-to-business reforms to spur the regional competitiveness of the country”, concluded Dr Ferlito.

For media enquiries: 

Mark Hasiuk, Senior Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute, (604) 688-0221 Ext. 517,