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March 30th, 2016

Redesigning social security in Morocco

In 2000, Morocco’s Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (CNSS), its national social security fund, was in poor shape, renowned for inefficiency and corruption. It was supposed to provide social security insurance for all the private sector employees in the country, but had only achieved 50 percent coverage. Mounir Chraïbi took over as director general in 2001 with a mandate to reform the agency, increase enrolment, improve services and root out corruption.

The initiative

A critical report on the CNSS by a parliamentary investigation committee set out its inadequacies in detail and, in 2001, a new director general, Mounir Chraïbi, was appointed from outside the agency by the minister of employment. He took on the role with a mission to reform and improve service delivery, increase the level of enrolment, improve the CNSS's efficiency and accountability, and increase the staff's skill levels. However, his approach needed to be a collaborative one: “il va falloir parvenir à créer un consensus [it will be necessary to build a consensus].” [2]

The government's priority was to improve social security - pensions and health care and fight corruption. In order to deliver this, Chraïbi focused on five long-term objectives:

  • “Increasing the number of enrolled members by 50%, to reach 2 million. [3]
  • “Adjusting the old-age pension plan in order to balance income and spending in 20 years.
  • “Instituting proper accounting policies and practices and having the board certify all accounts.
  • Creating a separate functional management organisation for the health centres.
  • “Implementing the Assurance Maladie Obligatoire (AMO), the new health insurance programme, effectively and in line with legal requirements.”

His reforms were continued by his successor, Saïd Ahmidouch, who took over in 2005.

The challenge

The role of Morocco's Caisse Nationale de Sécurité Sociale (CNSS) is to provide insurance for all private sector employees. It is a government agency that operates within the Ministry for Employment, Social Affairs and Solidarity. It has nine regional offices and 56 CNSS agencies that manage the scheme and pay out the social security benefits.

Between 1993 and 1997, the auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers published reports pointing out the irregularities in the public pension fund management and the lack of proper accounting.  In 2000, the minister of employment, Khalid Alioua, said that the CNSS had worked as a slush fund rather than a social security provider, and it had by this time acquired a widespread reputation for inefficiency and unfairness, with only half of those entitled to insurance being enrolled in the fund. “It had no proper accounting and was mismanaged and corrupt to the extent that it had lost the trust of companies, workers, and politicians." [1]

The public impact

There was a very significant impact on enrolment. The clearest indicator of the success of the CNSS reforms was the growth in the percentage of enrolled employees from the private sector. By 2011, CNSS insured 2.5 million people, or 72 percent of private sector employees and, since 2001, had enrolled nearly double the number of people that were being enrolled before Chraïbi took over.

The reform of inspection and control functions reduced corruption and increased efficiency. Individual CNSS agents were able to resolve far more  disputes and from 2008 to 2011, recovered more than MAD480 million (US$59.8 million) annually

The CNSS's Damancom system served to increase participation in the fund by reducing the cost of compliance for participating companies. “As a global pioneer of the computerisation of social security, the system earned two prizes: the Moroccan e-mtiaz award for e-governance in 2005 and the International Social Security Association good-practice award for Africa in 2008.” [4]

Through these increases in enrolment, fairness and efficiency, by 2013 the CNSS had achieved a 57 percent satisfaction rating, making it the second most popular government agency in Morocco.

Stakeholder engagement

The internal stakeholders included the Ministry of Employment, which appointed Chraïbi and operated the CNSS, and the Ministry of Finance, which supported the reform.

Chraïbi also received good support from external stakeholders, especially the private sector employers, who were responsible for enrolling their employees in the fund. “Most private sector employers supported Chraïbi's strategy because the plan would provide greater transparency - and, potentially, greater fairness - in the pension contributions the CNSS required.” [5]

He was able to create the consensus that he had promised in April 2001. “‘When I got there, my first goal was to create a work mood for people to get together, so problems got progressively less acute. We were living under the constant threat of a boycott by unions or employers, but hopefully, during [the] four years [I stayed in office], governance was respected.” [6] This indicates that the unions, another important stakeholder, also became more positively engaged.

Political commitment

The government, principally through the Ministries of Employment and Finance, was very supportive of the reform strategy being carried out by Chraïbi. This commitment was sustained when a new government took over in 2002. The Ministry of Finance endorsed the plan because it promised sounder fiscal management, the Ministry of Employment because reform of the CNSS was high on its agenda.

Public confidence

In 2001, when Chraïbi took over, the public did not trust the CNSS. The agency had delivered poor performance, only covered half of the working-age population, and known to be corrupt and inefficient.

Clarity of objectives

The objectives of redesigning the agency were very clear and consistent throughout (e.g., increasing levels of enrolment in the fund), and were measurable at the outset (e.g., increasing enrolment levels by 50 percent to reach 2 million). There were also broader, but equally clear, objectives such as transitioning from bureaucratic culture, to a service enterprise with a culture of efficiency and performance and applying proper accounting policies and practices.

Strength of evidence

That the CNSS was underperforming and was mismanaged was highlighted by the reports published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the parliamentary investigation committee and the World Bank, which conducted “a comprehensive diagnosis of the existing social protection programmes” [7] in 2002. The Ministries of Employment and Finance had clear evidence of the agency's irregularities and knew that the sources were reliable.

Moreover, one of the fundamental problems the CNSS faced was persuading companies to abide by the law and provide their contribution to employee pensions. In an attempt to correct this problem, Chraïbi and his team, along with an external service provider, worked on a pilot of the Damancom system, which was trialled over a four-month period with 50 companies. The new e-declaration system was rolled out in February 2003 and electronic payments began in December of that year.


The reform of the CNSS was established as being feasible in a number of areas:

  • Finances - the CNSS had reliable budgetary support from the Ministry of Finance.
  • Human resources -Chraïbi decided that, with 5,600 employees, the agency was actually overstaffed. He had the freedom both to recruit more suitable staff, independently of the civil service, and to let go those he felt were superfluous.
  • Technology - the necessary IT systems were established as being feasible (see Strength of evidence above).


Mounir Chraïbi, who was appointed as the CNSS's director general in 2001, was an experienced public sector manager who had already led reforms in other agencies, such as l'Office de la Formation Professionnelle (the Office of Vocational Training). In all, he had 12 years' experience of implementing the kind of reforms that were necessary at that time in the CNSS. His successor, Saïd Ahmidouch, who took over in 2005, had significant management experience in the insurance sector, which was very relevant to the CNSS's principal function.

“CNSS management created new procedures that required a written record of each step in inspections and audits. [8] If a company disagreed with the accuracy of any part of the record of an inspection or audit, it could appeal and meet with 13 agency representatives to reconcile the differences. The new information system and the changes in procedures empowered companies in a relationship that had previously favoured the inspectors and encouraged bribe-seeking.”


Effective measurement functions were incorporated in the service delivery and indicators captured the outcome (e.g., the number of new members enrolled annually). Also, the Damancom system was implemented to improve the inspection and auditing system.


The Ministries of Finance and Employment, which oversaw the CNSS, were both aligned with its objectives and saw its reform as a government priority. The Ministry of Finance allowed Chraïbi to recruit staff independently of the civil service, which indicated a cooperative approach. The new government took over in 2002 was also aligned with the reform and the redesign of the CNSS was maintained.

Private sector employers were also more cooperative with the CNSS because of the improved levels of transparency and efficiency. Chraïbi, in collaboration with high-level CNSS managers, worked on a four-year improvement plan, which he saw through before handing over to Ahmidouch, his successor.

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