More than one million Costa Ricans — almost 20 percent of the country’s population — live in poverty while almost ten thousand receive “luxury pensions.” According to Atlas Network partner Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial y Accion Social (the Institute of Business Development and Social Action, or IDEAS), a group of pensioners dubbed “Ticos Con Coronas” (Costa Ricans with Crowns) receive an average monthly pension of $4,495 USD, with some receiving more than $24,000 USD per month. IDEAS sponsored a petition to eliminate these “luxury pensions,” which currently has more than 13,000 signatures on Change.org.
“During the past few decades, political, academic, business, and union leaders have hijacked the lawmaking powers in order to pervert the laws and create immoral benefits in the form of ‘luxury pensions’ and ‘luxury salaries and benefits’ for public sector employees,” says IDEAS president Luis E. Loría. “According to public figures, in 2017, the privileges of ‘Ticos con Coronas’ amounted to 8.4 percent of GDP, in a country with a fiscal deficit of 6 percent of GDP.”
Article 73 of the Costa Rican Constitution states that the autonomous Costa Rican Bank of Social Security is responsible for the administration and oversight of social securities. However, according to IDEAS, the Costa Rican Congress ignored Article 73 and approved the luxury pension regimes without the Costa Rican Bank of Social Security.
The Change.org petition lists three commitments. First, these luxury pensions must be eliminated and not just cut. Second, the president cannot appoint any members of his cabinet to luxury pensions. Lastly, the pension money must be invested in sustainable programs — not wealth transfers — that benefit those in extreme poverty.
“We owe the success of our public campaign against legal plunder to Atlas Network’s Leadership Academy,” continued Loría. “I learned about how to design and implement public campaigns, coalition building, and structure-effective advocacy efforts in the Think Tank MBA program. Also, the access to successful reformers, such as Juan José Daboub, Cristián Larroulet, and Simeon Djankov has proven invaluable in terms of insights and feedback about how to focus our efforts in order to maximize their impact. I’m now participating in the Fundraising Training Program, because we need to raise additional support to scale our efforts to put an end to the immoral privileges of the ‘Ticos con Coronas.’”