Doing Business

Invest SA’s response to World Bank’s statement citing the discontinuation of the Ease of Doing Business Report

Invest SA takes note of the decision issued on 16th September 2021 by the World Bank Group to discontinue the publication of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report; citing data irregularities of Doing Business 2018 and 2020 as well as some instances of unethical conduct of previous/current Bank Board Members and Staff in the independent report. The World Bank Group will be working on a new approach for assessing the business and investment climate.

Since its inception, the Doing Business Report has been an invaluable tool for governments to benchmark and improve their regulatory environments. The Doing Business report focused on the roll-out and implementation of reforms to build confidence in business communities around the globe and to highlight the importance of a business-friendly climate to investment, private sector growth, economic growth and development.

The discontinuation of the DB Report leaves a notable vacuum. Invest SA’s engagement on the regulatory reforms it presented was founded primarily on the value it sees in delivering simpler business processes to improve the country’s competitiveness and not solely to improve the ranking. Invest SA is confident that the reforms achieved over the years as part of the Ease of Doing Business Program have not been in vain and can be built upon. The engagement entrenched the need for dialogue with end-users of government processes and the development of systems to monitor the efficacy of these systems. The engagement also created an opportunity for national and sub-national governments to proactively engage multiple stakeholders for broader reforms. 

Although some of the regulatory reforms undertaken were aligned to the  DB Report, Invest SA’s approach to regulatory reforms has always superseded the constrained methodology and narrow case study of the Doing Business Report. Invest SA’s reform effort is multifaceted and the Doing Business Report is only one of many indices and benchmarks utilized by the state to assess its global competitiveness and to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

The prioritisation of South Africa’s reform effort is a lever to advance overall state objectives. As such, the rationale behind South Africa’s reform programme remains the improvement of the overall regulatory environment and simplification of business processes critical to an improved investment climate and enhancing economic growth and development.  While the reform programme can no longer pursue the formal ranking target, it is necessary to reiterate that the implementation of meaningful reforms was and remains the main objective.

Invest SA will continue to use the hybrid approach of multiple indices that reflects the unique circumstances and needs of the country to advance a more inclusive, equitable and business-friendly investment environment that will support the lifecycle of a business.

Invest SA would like to thank all stakeholders both in the public and private sector for their commitment to working toward the implementation of the reforms. The mandate remains unchanged and Invest SA remains committed to improving the regulatory and investment climate. In the interim, we will reformulate and re-engineer the programme more suited to the needs of the South African economy.  We hope that we can continue to work together to deliver on this agenda and improve the investment climate in South Africa.