Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Accounting and Finance


The island Kingdom of Tonga has been facing a difficult problem in trying to achieve sustained economic growth through the formulation and implementation of development plans. Such development plans are dependent, among other things, upon the availability of relevant and reliable economic information. However, the availability of accounting information to help implement economic decisions have been widely criticised as deficient, irrelevant and often lacking credibility. This has been due to the absence of well-defined reporting practices and procedures whereby such requirements, whether statutory or legal are strictly followed and enforced.

Accounting and auditing practices are not formalised in Tonga nor is the role of accounting and accountants in providing the data necessary for decisions relevant to economic development well defined. As a result financial reporting of firms provides little information needed for allocation of resources and investment decisions. As a consequence, investors are disinclined to provide the capital necessary to expanding economies. These allegations have prompted this research study.

Therefore, an attempt at improving the quality of accounting in Tonga, as a source of information function, would require a research study to accurately determine the country's needs, and the role of accounting in the country's economic development process. This is very important because there is a lack of awareness in all sectors of the economy of the role and the potential contribution that accounting can offer in the economic development effort. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of accounting and accountants in the economic development process of Tonga. This analysis will not prove that accounting is the most important element, however, it will show that accounting has a positive role to play in this process.

An ethnographic approach was used for this research which involved participant-observation. Interviews were conducted with accountants, managers, executives, and public officials in Tonga. Documentations and financial reports were also collected from businesses, statutory boards and government departments.

The study revealed that accounting development in Tonga is a direct product of its environment with cultural influences as the major contribution to the prolonged non-existence of any accounting and auditing standards. It was also revealed that accounting has a positive role to play in the economic development of Tonga which is evident in the need for reliable and timely data for the preparation of financial statements, allocation of resources, and improvement in the use of existing resources. Full realisation of this role is dependent upon the ability of the government and accountants to develop accepted national accounting and auditing standards that are fully recognised and enforce by law.