Europe and Eurasia

Croatia Pension Reform Project

Client: United States Agency for International Development

2001-2004, SEGIR GBTI

CARANA designed and implemented a pension reform public education program to help the Government of Croatia mobilize support for the introduction of a mandatory contribution pension program, targeting selected constituent groups—including policy makers, organized labor, employers, and the general public. We developed an extensive multimedia strategy, using TV and radio spots, talk shows with appearances by key officials, town hall meetings, posters, pamphlets, billboards, and news conferences. We designed and printed 2.75 million brochures and sent them to every home in Croatia, delivered free of charge by the Croatia Post Office. The nationwide initiative included specific messages for different geographic and social groups. We also held weekend retreats with journalists and senior policy makers, which yielded dozens of well-informed, positive articles.

CARANA’s work included providing technical support to the regulatory agency responsible for licensing, monitoring, and auditing the private pension funds and fund management companies. We developed manuals and guidelines for field examinations and desk audits and provided on-the-job training. The project also organized study tours and participation in regional conferences in Poland, Hungary, Estonia, and Bulgaria, giving Croatian stakeholders a better understanding of best practices in pension reform. Our assistance ensured security and integrity of the system and included IT support for the agency responsible for managing the flow of information and money from employers and employees, through the government payment clearinghouse, and to pension funds and custodian banks and back again.

The impact of our work was clear: When polled, an initially skeptical population showed 80% approval of the program, and over 90% of the eligible population registered for the privately managed funds within six months of their availability. Then-Minister of Labor and Social Care, Davorko Vildovi, asked that we broaden activities to other social reforms, saying, "Through our cooperation with USAID and CARANA Corporation, we did more than just establish a new pension system. We established a new level of expectation of what a government can accomplish for its citizens."