Benin has both an ordinary and a development budget. High personnel costs have been a continuing problem in Benin, which has a surfeit of civil servants. Many government-backed enterprises are near bankruptcy and some are barely functioning. The fiscal year follows the calendar year.
Most investment expenditure is financed by foreign loans and grants. During the 1980s, the external debt nearly tripled, and stood at $909 million by 1988. In 1989, the government rescheduled its arrears through the Paris Club. Since 1991 Benin has been implementing a structural adjustment program supported by the World Bank. The program calls for reduced fiscal expenditures, deregulation of trade, and the privatization of money losing state-owned enterprises. Economic aid amounted to $265 million in 2003, although Benin was eligible to receive debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that in 2001 Benin's central government took in revenues of approximately $337.4 million and had expenditures of $561.8 million. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $224.4 million. External debt totaled $1.18 billion.