Academic journal article Australasian Accounting Business & Finance Journal

Accounting and Accountability by Provincial Councils in Fiji: The Case of Namosi

Academic journal article Australasian Accounting Business & Finance Journal

Accounting and Accountability by Provincial Councils in Fiji: The Case of Namosi

Article excerpt


The aim of this paper is twofold: firstly to examine how the concepts of accounting and accountability are understood by indigenous Fijians; and secondly to examine the role of accounting in the accountability of provincial councils.

Provincial councils are part of the Fijian Administration, which runs alongside the central government but applies only to indigenous Fijians. The Fijian Administration was introduced by the British colonial administration in the late 1800s as a mechanism for controlling indigenous Fijians. It has undergone several reviews resulting from criticisms that it has failed to fulfill the aspirations of indigenous Fijians.

There is evidence of implied and actual accountability by indigenous Fijians in Namosi. This is supported by monitoring mechanisms established by provincial offices. On the other hand, neither the Fijian Affairs Board nor the Namosi Provincial Council appears to take serious responsibility for accounting to indigenous Fijians in the province. Sadly, there is little evidence to demonstrate an explicit accountability to indigenous Fijians. Significant scope exists for improving the standard of accounting and accountability by provincial councils.

This study contributes to understanding the role of accounting among indigenous peoples, in the context of inherited colonial structures. It also represents accounting research conducted by indigenous academics, primarily in the Fijian language. This enables an examination of how language frames understanding of accounting concepts.

Keywords-accountability, accounting, Fijian Administration, indigenous Fijians, power distance, provincial councils.


The role of accounting among indigenous peoples is a relatively recent field of accounting research. Within the accounting literature, Neu (2000) observes considerable resistance to recognition of the role that accounting has played in subjectifying indigenous peoples. This includes explicit resistance by those who assert the neutrality of accounting and a more subtle form of resistance which recognizes the plight of indigenous peoples, but ignores the contribution of accounting towards that plight. The role of accounting in this regard was recognised in 2000 through a special edition of the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal which focused on the interface between accounting, indigenous cultures and indigenous peoples.

While the literature on this subject is growing, few studies have explored how accounting has been misrepresented to and misinterpreted by indigenous societies or how accounting can improve accountability within those societies. This may be related to the under-representation of indigenous peoples among accounting academics, which provides further evidence of their general dispossession, oppression and silencing (Gallhofer and Chew, 2000).

In this paper, an indigenous Fijian or i taukei2 is defined according to Section 2 of the Fijian Affairs Act, and includes

"...every member of an aboriginal race indigenous to Fiji and also includes every member of an aboriginal race indigenous to Melanesia, Micronesia or Polynesia living in Fiji and who has elected to live in a Fijian village" (Fijian Affairs Act, 1978)

In relation to the latter category of indigenous people, the reference to Fijian villages is important, since it assumes two things: they have adopted or accepted Fijian customs and traditions; and they are governed by the Fijian Administration.

Gallhofer and Chew (2000) identified several reasons for considering indigenous peoples as a specific group, beginning with the fact that they have experienced colonial rule despite having inhabited lands well before colonisation. The effect of colonialism on indigenous peoples is receiving greater recognition, with growing concern to respect their cultures and facilitate their development, as exemplified by the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in September 2007. …

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