The government office charged with marshalling Poland's pensions reforms has said that if the contributions system of the mandatory pension funds hits problems, a bridging option" will probably be created .

Marek Gora, a director of the office of the government plenipotentiary for social security reform, would not give details of the bridging mechanism, but insisted that the reform would go ahead on time. He told IPE: "The only question is whether everything can be worked out from a technical viewpoint. If not we will probably apply a bridging option which will enable us to start the reform."

"This means shifting the contributions to somewhere but not necessarily to the funds." The transfer of a portion of social security contributions to the new second pillar Mandatory Pension Funds (MPF) is to start in 1999.

"From the point of view of legislation and of working with the social partners everything goes well. We are going ahead and will meet the deadline," said Gora.

However he added: "There are problems with the infrastructure of collecting the transferred contributions, a shifting of the burden of contributions to the second pillar, open pension funds. It has to be done through some kind of channel and it has tone well prepared to avoid mistakes.""