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In this evaluation, the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) finds that the World Bank Group has supported a comprehensive menu of investment climate reforms. These reforms were generally supported in the right countries and generally addressed the right areas of the regulatory environment. In providing its support, the Bank Group relies on a variety of investment climate diagnostic tools, but their coverage is incomplete.
Intervention and country case analysis shows that, within the limits of the available measures of investment climate indicators, the Bank Group has been successful in improving investment climate in client countries, as measured by number of laws enacted, streamlining of processes and time, or simple cost savings for private firms. However, the impact on investment, jobs, business formation, and growth is not straightforward, and the social value of regulatory reforms—that is, their implications for inclusion and shared prosperity as reflected in effects on a range of stakeholders—has not been properly included in the design of reforms and assessment of their impact. While regulatory reforms need to be designed and implemented with both economic and social costs and benefits in mind, in practice, World Bank Group support focuses predominantly on reducing costs to businesses.
Simplicity of design and good risk assessment play a special role in achieving satisfactory outcomes. Political instability and lack of political commitment remain major problems, limiting the effectiveness of investment climate reforms.
In supporting investment climate reforms, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) use two distinct but complementary business models. Coordination within the World Bank Group on investment climate reforms is higher than in the rest of the Bank Group; but despite the fact that investment climate is the most integrated business unit in the World Bank Group, coordination is mostly informal, relying mainly on personal contacts.