November 7, 2005

Winner: World Bank, Gowda, Krishna Loser: Bangalore

In the midst of all this fighting, Bangalore is the loser with no improvement in the infrastructure.
No Basis To Say Karnataka Was Most Corrupt In ’04: WB


Bangalore: The Gowda-Krishna spat has now reached the World Bank ears!
   In the wake of one of its reports being “misrepresented,’’ a World Bank official has said there was nothing in the study to say that Karnataka was the most corrupt state in India in 2004.
   A letter from World Bank country director (India), Michael F Carter, to Maharashtra governor S M Krishna, who had sought clarifications on the report, described the outcry as an “unfortunate episode sparked off by a gross misrepresentation of some figures on Karnataka in the report.’’
   The report — India investment climate assessment 2004 — had triggered off a controversy. Even as Gowda maintained the report had given Karnataka the “most corrupt’’ tag, Krishna, who was chief minister then, suggested any probe should commence from the public works department, which had been under N Dharam Singh. An upset Singh had hit back asking Krishna to suggest the mode of probe.
   Clarifying the position, World Bank said the methodology adopted to assess India’s investment climate was twopronged: factual questions addressed to firms. These included queries such as how much time did it take a firm to get a connection to power grid or a fixed phone line. The other was based on perception of firms operating in Karnataka.
   “The second category of indicators, based on perceptions, is what seems to have provided the opportunity to misrepresent corruption issues in Karnataka,’’ Carter said. Here all firms surveyed in each state were asked to rank the obstacles they face to business growth across nine parameters including infrastructure bottlenecks, corruption.
   “In this instance, while it is true that a higher proportion of firms surveyed in Karnataka during 2003 reported corruption as a major growth bottleneck than in any other state, such perception-based rankings of constraints and s u b s e q u e n t ranking does not indicate absolute level of d i f f e re n c e s across the states,’’ Carter said.
   He said, if a large proportion of firms in Karnataka perceive corruption, it could mean that other areas like infrastructure are better handled. Or it would also mean that given the industry profile of Karnataka, expectations of entrepreneurs in this state are different from those of other states,’’ he contended.
   Carter said: “These points are very clear in the World Bank report and therefore I can categorically confirm report provides no basis for claiming that Karnataka was most corrupt state in India in 2004.’’
Gowda loses fizz over WB report
Bangalore: JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, who was taking potshots at his political detractor S M Krishna (now Maharashtra governor) by waving a World Bank report, went into the clam-up mode on Friday after the Bank stated that report had been misrepresented.
   Gowda, had a few days ago, slammed Krishna stating that the World Bank had ranked Karnataka as one of the most corrupt states in the country during the latter’s tenure as chief minister.
   However, the World Bank clarified that it did not imply Karnataka was the corrupt state. When contacted by The Times of India, Gowda just said: “I do not want to react on the clarification.’’

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