Jorge Rodríguez, Chile’s economy minister, called a politically tinted downgrading of his nation an “outrageous scandal,” reflecting a degree of “rarely seen immorality.”
Ms. Bachelet demanded that the bank carry out a “complete investigation” into the matter.
“Rankings provided by international institutions should be trustworthy, because they have an impact on a country’s’ investment and development,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The World Bank said Saturday in a statement that it would “conduct an external review of Chile’s indicators” in the report “in light of the concerns expressed” by Mr. Romer. But the statement also defended the broad integrity of the ranking. “Objective data is not subject to political influence,” the statement said.
Mr. Lopez-Claros, a senior fellow at Georgetown University who is on leave from the bank, said in an emailed statement on Saturday that the assertion that Chile was unfairly graded was “wholly without merit.” He defended his team’s commitment to “exercise tight quality control on all the Doing Business data before it goes to publication,” and said it had been especially careful in its collection of data in Chile, where the bank recently opened its first research hub in Latin America.
Since Ms. Bachelet’s first term in 2006, Chile’s ranking has fallen from 25th to 57th. During this period, it slipped consistently in the years when Ms. Bachelet was in power, but rose during the presidency of the conservative billionaire, Sebastián Piñera, who governed between 2010 and 2014.
Mr. Piñera will return to office this year after winning an election in which he campaigned as the candidate better suited to attract investment than his rival, Alejandro Guillier, a Bachelet ally.
Mr. Romer told The Wall Street Journal that changes to the methodology in recent years, including how the bank assessed the ease of paying taxes, contributed to Chile’s dip.
Mr. Lopez-Claros defended changes as sound and said Chile’s standing fell in large part because other countries, including Mexico, took steps to attract investors.
Mr. Rodríguez, the minister, said he hopes the bank conducts a prompt review to upgrade Chile’s ranking. “But the harm has already been done,” he said.