Overall, less than 10% of the population of Benin benefits from its social protection systems. According to an ILO study of the expenditure on social protection in Benin (SPER), as of 2000, 6.21% of the economically active population had old-age insurance and 5.15% had healthcare coverage. Benin’s social security schemes target persons working in the formal sector, and include the general social security scheme administered by the National Social Security Fund (CNSS) and the special scheme for civil servants and members of the armed forces administered by the Benin National Retirement Fund (FNRB). These systems have been strengthened by private and community social security initiatives.
Social coverage for State employees
The retirement scheme for public servants is administered by the Benin National Retirement Fund (FNRB) under Law 86-014 of 26 September 1986 containing the provisions governing civil and military pensions. It is financed mainly through the affiliates’ premiums, repurchase of services realized under other schemes and contributions from the State. State employees also benefit from family allowances, which are considered as fringe benefits, and coverage of 80% of medical costs minus pharmaceutical fees. The growing imbalance between economically active and inactive persons has significant financial consequences for the FNRB’s functioning.
Social coverage for salaried employees in the paragovernmental and private sectors
Social security for salaried employees in the paragovernmental and private sectors is administered by the National Social Security Fund (CNSS), under law 98-019 of 21 March 2003 containing the provisions governing social security in Benin. The CNSS covers old-age and disability pensions, family allowances, work accidents and illness, maternity and survivors’ benefits. Medical care is not covered by the CNSS. The fund is financed mainly through premiums paid by employers and affiliated workers. In addition to the formal social security systems, private insurance companies offer services such as health, old-age and life insurance, which are generally available to more well-off salaried workers.
Social protection in the informal economy
In order to spur extension of social security to workers in the informal economy, who constitute a majority in Benin, the State, in cooperation with craftspersons’ associations and other informal economy stakeholders, launched the initiative to create the Social Security Mutual Benefit Organization of Benin (MSS Benin). Today, the MSS Benin has four local subdivisions, in Cotonou, Porto Novo, Nattitingou and Parakou, and offers health and old-age insurance. The organization has received technical support from the STEP Africa programme. Since the 1990s, populations in rural and peri-urban areas have been organizing themselves to tackle the financial risks of illness. Thus there is an increasing number of micro-health insurance systems administered by the population and functioning on a solidarity-basis. Today there are around 100 working micro-health insurance systems in Benin, covering an estimated 100,000 persons. Considering the vulnerability of the rural population and workers in the informal economy and the potential of these innovative social protection systems, these initiatives appear to be an essential tool in the extension of social protection and should receive more support.