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DB to DC in record time

The Polish pension reforms of 1999 rank as one of the fastest implementations of a switch from defined benefit to defined contributions schemes. Marek Gora, professor at the Warsaw School of Economics and co-designer of the programme, started work on the scheme in late 1996, producing the blueprint in early 1997. Three of the essential bills were passed by parliament later that year, despite the interruption of a general election, two the following year. The individual accounts were in place by January 1999, and the split contributions started in April that year.
All workers’ contributions (19.52% of the contribution base) go to their individual accounts, of which 12.22% is administered by Zaklad Ubezpieczen Spolecznych (ZUS), the state social insurance institution, and 7.3% to open pension fund (Otwarty Fundusz Emerytalny or OFE) accounts managed by private asset managers, the pension fund societies (Powszechne Towarzystwa Emerytalne or PTEs). Contributions are mandatory for all those aged 30 and under on 1 January 1999 and voluntary for those aged 30–50. Growth in the first account is driven by the economy (covered wage bill), in the second by financial market developments. Both accounts are annuitised simultaneously.
Additional private schemes are a more recent development. They include occupational plans – 152 of these as well as four pension societies had been licensed by early 2002 – and can be run as either capital or insurance savings plans.

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