379

Fiji

Key figures

Number of cooperatives per sector

Research overview

 

Responding to challenges and existing knowledge gaps facing the cooperative movement, this mapping research seeks to provide exhaustive information on cooperatives worldwide. This is achieved through a process jointly conducted by the ICA and its four regional offices – Cooperatives of the Americas, Cooperatives Europe, ICA Africa, and ICA Asia-Pacific – using a common methodology. Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using the same questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain an accurate picture of the national situation. Mapping out cooperatives in each country provides a more precise picture of the cooperative context at national and regional levels, enhances the movement's visibility, networking, partnerships opportunities, as well as advocacy, and empowers cooperators by providing them tools for positive change.

This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Fiji. For more information, you can download the full report and the highlights here.

History

 

The cooperative movement in Fiji goes back to the first British colonial laws that were formulated to encourage cooperatives in 1947. During Fiji’s struggle for independence, cooperatives became a symbol of resistance wherein Fijians resisted colonial control over certain goods. Over the years, the focus of the movement has changed from predominantly agricultural cooperatives to an increasing number of consumer cooperatives that are located mostly in rural and maritime areas. Now, the government provides funds to promote the formation and establishment of cooperatives. Since 2013, on an average 20 new cooperatives have registered with the Department of Cooperative Business each year. 

Overview

 

ICA has one member from Fiji. 



In Fiji, the research questionnaire was distributed to and completed by 1 ICA member organisation in the country. The data collected was for the reference year 2020.


 

Summary

ICA member represents 379 cooperatives in the country. 

Cooperatives are present across diverse sectors in Fiji including agriculture and food, finance, wholesale and retail trade, and others. 

 

Legal framework

 

The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is, therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Fiji.

 

 

Fiji’s cooperative law was introduced by the British Ordinance in 1947; however, cooperatives already existed in the agricultural and dairy sectors. Following independence, the British ordinance was adopted as law, until it was replaced by the Co-operatives Act 1996, to encourage greater cooperative autonomy. This analysis provides a general overview of Fiji’s Co-operatives Act, 1996 and Co-operatives Regulation 1999.

 

Main laws relevant to cooperatives in Fiji


Co-operatives Act,1996

Co-operatives Regulation, 1999

 

Section 5 of the Co-operatives Act,1996 states that a cooperative shall observe the cooperative principles in its operations and goes on to set out the cooperative principles as set out in the 1995 Statement of cooperative identity.


 

Cooperative friendliness

The Co-operative Act 1996 is limitedly cooperative friendly because it relies heavily on a well-resourced cooperative registry to ensure that cooperatives comply with certain aspects like auditing and reporting, thus not fully supporting the cooperative principle of Autonomy and Independence. However, it is a good example of a well-drafted and easy to read legislative framework for cooperatives.

 

Key recommendations for improvement

  • The problem of compliance with audit requirements can be addressed by introducing simplified compliance requirements for ‘small’ cooperatives, where they can opt-out of the obligation to have their financial records audited annually. The cooperative’s financials can be externally reviewed.
  • Also, the small cooperatives need not lodge their financial statements with the registry but instead complete and lodge an ‘annual return’ which allows the registry to capture data in a streamlined way.
  • The governance issue of weak boards can be addressed by allowing a board to have non-member directors if member directors always outnumber non-member directors when any decision is made.

 

Conclusions

Fiji has a vibrant cooperative sector that is supported by friendly cooperative legislation. The Co-operative Act 1996 is currently under review (as of March 2020) thus providing a good opportunity to ensure that government ministers are made aware of the importance of the sector.

 

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