Cameroon’s Retirement System , Nightmare for Civil Servants

The  retirement system of the Cameroonian public administration  shows a continuously growing annual deficit ranging from 5.4% in 2011 to…

The  retirement system of the Cameroonian public administration  shows a continuously growing annual deficit ranging from 5.4% in 2011 to 11.4% in 2020.



Pending structural reforms to ensure the balance of the system, most of the actions or measures already taken to prevent the deterioration of the balance of the public employees’ pension scheme are the result of the balance file cleaning operations. The most important of these is the operation to control and secure the entitlement file. Here is an explanation.

This is one of the innovations of the 2023 Finance Bill. For the first time, the Cameroonian government had to produce an annual report on budgetary risks. The exercise made it possible to identify the sources of deviation between expectations or forecasts of revenue and/or expenditure and their actual realisation at the end of the budgetary year. One of the major risks highlighted is related to the pension scheme for state employees.


According to analysts from the Ministry of Finance and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the diagnosis of the pension system of public employees (civil servants, state employees under the Labour Code and military) in Cameroon, conducted on the basis of data from the pay observed over the period 2011 to 2020 has highlighted the growing financial imbalance of the current system. From 22.8 billion CFA francs in 2011, the gap between the deductions made for social security contributions and the pensions paid out will be 73.2 billion CFA francs in 2020, an increase of 221.6% in relative terms.

According to the daily Ecomatin, The ministry of Finance  reveals that over the period from 2011 to 2015, the civil servants’ scheme  in surplus, except for the year 2014 when a deficit of 0.3 billion was recorded. This situation contrasts with the period from 2016 to 2020, during which the balance becomes deficit and increases over time, from 8.7 billion in 2016 to 30.3 billion in 2020. As for state employees covered by the Labour Code, apart from 2016 when a deficit of CFAF 0.6 billion was recorded, their pension scheme has a structural financial surplus which reached the level of CFAF 18.8 billion in 2019.

On the other hand, the pension scheme for military personnel (including non-commissioned soldiers who are not subject to pension contribution deductions) is structurally in deficit, with benefits paid out sometimes being 20 times higher than contributions. Indeed, from a deficit of F33.3 billion in 2011, the growing deficit will reach F61.1 billion in 2020.


The situation is so critical that Minfi believes that “the probability of occurrence [of this risk], calculated over the duration of the Medium Term Budgetary Framework (MTBF), is considered high, i.e. over 50%. The budgetary impact, calculated over the duration of the MTBF and as a percentage of the budget, is considered high (above 15%). Its magnitude places it at “high risk”. This is due to the obsolescence of the current legal framework, the weakness of institutional governance, the absence of an alternative financing mechanism to strengthen the viability of the pension system, the weakness of the information system and benefits that are too costly and irrelevant for the system.


It is therefore understandable why, when presenting the government’s economic, financial, social and cultural programme for the year 2023 to the National Assembly on 20 November 2022, the Prime Minister, Joseph Dion Ngute, announced that a feasibility study would be carried out on the establishment of a National Fund for State Employees. The objective is to modernise and revitalise the labour and social security sub-sector in 2023.

After the extension of the retirement age of civil servants in the public health sector, President Paul Biya has once again done a favour to civil servants by harmonising the retirement age. “The retirement age of civil servants is, as of January 1, 2021, harmonized at sixty (60) years for staff in categories “A” and “B” and fifty-five (55) years for staff in categories “C” and “D”, says the decree signed by the Head of State on December 30, 2020. The decision in question is extended to staff benefiting, on the date of entry into force of this decree, of a formal extension of activity valid.

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