May 28, 2020 Print

Costa Rican think tank IDEAS Labs has won the 2020 Latin America Liberty Award for their "#TicosConCorona” initiative, which has successfully slashed luxury pensions in the Central American nation. Luis Loria, founding president of IDEAS Labs, accepted the award during Latin America Liberty Forum on May 28.

To change public policy, IDEAS Labs started by attempting to change public opinion. #TicosConCorona raised awareness about the problem of luxury pensions for public sector employees, which in some cases amounted to USD $14,000+ per month—significantly exceeding the country’s annual per capita income of approximately USD $12,600. A massive public education initiative was disseminated through op-eds, press releases, and news outlets, highlighting the economic ramifications for taxpayers as well as the immorality of some of these luxury pensions. 

IDEAS Labs was able to position the luxury pensions problem as a top priority in the national debate during the two rounds of the presidential election in early 2018. As a result of their work, seven projects for eliminating or reducing luxury pensions were presented to Congress by the five major political parties (PAC, PUSC, PLN, PRN, and FA), and a public employment reform package was presented by the government. One of the projects was approved unanimously by the Legislature and was signed into law on December 5, 2019.

On January 8, 2020, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado publicly renounced the luxury pension that he would receive at the end of his term in May 2022.

To read more about the project, click here.

The Latin America Liberty Award is generously sponsored by Templeton Religion Trust.