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Latvia: To Launch First Reform of Public Pensions

Washington, 7 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - The World Bank says that Latvia will become the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to embark upon a major reform of its public pension system.

The bank says that successful implementation of the project "will put Latvia on the cutting edge of social insurance administration throughout Europe." It says under the project, the four to 15 days it currently takes for Latvia to calculate the benefits owed retirees will be reduced to just 15 minutes.

The bank has approved an $18.1 million loan to help Riga launch the program, which will cost nearly $39 million. Latvia is financing nearly $13 million, with another nearly $8 million coming from other donors.

Under the program, $32 million will be spent to reform and modernize the Ministry of Welfare's entire Social Insurance Fund and management. Another $2.9 million will be used to help municipalities strengthen delivery systems and encourage community-based social services. Additional monies will be spent on setting up and regulating privately managed pensions and monitoring the entire program.