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In recognition of Bulgaria's significant achievements in the area of pension reform, an international conference on "Evolution of Pension Reforms: Bulgaria's Experience and Regional Perspectives" was held in Sofia on February 16 – 17 and participants from a number of European countries were invited to discuss Bulgaria's achievements.

The major objectives of the conference were to review Bulgaria's accomplishments in the pension provision area, to offer a detailed assessment of the Bulgarian pension reform and the pension model adopted in the country, and to outline possibilities for replicating Bulgaria's success in the region and in other countries. Participants shared their experiences and their assessments of the Bulgarian pension model and discussed the accomplishments and constraints of pension reform implementation in other countries.

The conference was organized by the USAID Bulgaria Labor Market Project under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Georgi Parvanov, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Financial Supervision Commission, the National Social Security Institute, and the Bulgarian Association of Supplementary Pension Security Companies.

Experts from international financial institutions and organizations, including The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, the International Organization of Pension Regulators and Supervisors, the International Federation of Pension Funds (FIAP), the European Pension Fund Organization (EFRP), as well as representatives of government institutions, NGOs, and supervisory authorities from more than 20 countries, participated in the conference together with USAID experts implementing projects or offering technical assistance in these countries in the pension reform area.

Since 1998, the pension reform component of the USAID Bulgaria Labor Market Project, implemented by CARANA Corporation, has provided assistance to the Government of Bulgaria in the implementation of a modern three-pillar pension system. Some significant achievements from the project include the following:

  • The Labor Market Project was directly involved in drafting new legislation mandating a reform in the existing public pay-as-you-go system and the introduction of private mandatory and voluntary pension systems.
  • The project participated in the institutional development of a pension regulatory body to assist in developing vital regulations, staff training and on- and off-site supervision, as well as the licensing of the private pension companies.
  • The project worked on the development and strengthening of private pension companies and held various training courses in key areas for the pension industry such as management, marketing, financial analyses and accounting, international accounting standards, and investment.
  • In 2003, the non-banking financial supervision was consolidated thus forming the Financial Supervision Commission. The Labor Market Project provided extensive assistance with the consolidation of the unified regulator in the form of working groups, study tours, training courses and daily operational assistance with various routine tasks.
  • The project helped the Government of Bulgaria raise the public awareness of the new aspects of social insurance and the benefits of participating in the new system.
  • The project developed information technologies for the Project’s counterparts for data collection, record-keeping, collection of contributions and their transfer to private pension funds, daily asset valuation, and unit values.
  • The Labor Market Project served as a liaison between all institutions involved in the pension reform.

For more information about the USAID Bulgraia Labor Market and the conference, please visit the project's website at

[Posted February 2005]