Accounting as a technology of neoliberalism: the accountability role of IPSAS in Nigeria
Critical Perspectives on Accounting
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This paper critically examines the implications for Nigeria’s indebtedness of neoliberalism as a neo-colonial dependency concept and International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) as a technology of a new form of economic imperialism. As Nigeria’s huge oil and gas revenues continue to be lost to corruption, the country relies on loans from Paris Club countries and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), notably the World Bank. In 1999, when the country changed from military to democratic governance, Nigeria’s debt to the Paris Club and the World Bank was $30bn. With pressure from the Paris Club and the World Bank to repay its debts, the new democratic Nigerian government sought debt forgiveness and rescheduling. Although the World Bank, representing the creditors in debt negotiation, does not go into specific accounting standards to be adopted by debtor nations, the Bank does require Nigeria to embrace neoliberal economic reforms (including public sector reporting framework that produces consistently relevant and reliable financial information – which denotes IPSAS). Despite the partial debt forgiveness, repayment of the balance of the debt and adoption of IPSAS, Nigeria remains endemically corrupt, relies on loans from powerful nations and IFIs, and has again become debt-laden. Contrary to neoliberal assumptions therefore, we provide the evidence that better accounting may not necessarily be a panacea for economic development.