Business Politics

World Bank sorry for presidential popularity questions

The World Bank has apologised for Maldivians being asked “unintended” political questions in a financial survey about how good their president is.

In a statement issued Tuesday the global institution said survey staff had been posing questions “beyond the scope” of a data gathering exercise about how people save, borrow, make payments and manage risks in the Maldives.

The political questions, it said, were part of a separate poll being conducted by Gallup, which was not supported by the World Bank. “These may have included questions which are political in nature. The World Bank has raised the issue with the concerned agencies and they have agreed to drop these questions as part of this exercise.

“The World Bank regrets any inconvenience/discomfort that these unintended questions may have posed.”

News outlet Mihaaru reported the three questions asked by a local agency were about President Abdulla Yameen and his government. They were: Do you have confidence in the judiciary and military? Do you have confidence in senior officials of the state? Do you approve of the job President Yameen is doing?

Elite Institute, which was charged with carrying out the World Bank work and the Gallup poll, said no changes had been made to the questionnaire.

“Our Institute’s work is to carry out the ‘Findex and World Poll’ survey questions as approved by World Bank, Gallup group and other relevant stakeholders. We assure that our company did not bring about any changes,” a Facebook post said. There was also a denial of questionnaire changes from Elite’s director Ahmed Zahir, Mihaaru reported.

The Colombo-based representative for the World Bank was unavailable for comment.

Gallup was contacted about who had hired the firm to poll people about Yameen and his administration and whether they knew about the survey overlap, but no comment was forthcoming at the time of going to press.

The Maldives Independent also rang celebrated human rights lawyer Jason McCue, who has been hired by the government as its latest foreign spin doctor, to see if his company Rigel Corporation was responsible for hiring Gallup. He did not return the call.

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