This project work is undertaken with a view to evaluate the modus operandi of the accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries with special reference to the ministry of finance. To this end, this chapter set out the background to the study, defines some key concepts of the study gives the objective of the study and states the problems in the accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries.
It also goes further to give the significance of the study, the limitations of the study and will evaluate and answer some hypothetical questions arising from the study.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY:
Nigeria gained independence from British government (her colonial master) in the year 1960. She also subsequently acquired republican status in the year 1963. As a result of the foregoing therefore, her civil service and ministries were consequently structured along the British civil service and ministries. The system remained the same with slight difference till 1963 when the country was divided into four regions. The four regions were further sub-division into nineteen states by Late General Murtala Mohammed was made.
It was during this sub-division in 1976 that Anambra state was created out of the former East central state of Nigeria. As at date, there are thirty-six states in Nigeria with Abuja as a capital territory, and Enugu state was therefore carved out from the former Anambra state in 1991.
As a result, the ministerial accounting system in Enugu state is not much different from that of other states because they were all structured by the British colonial master in such a way as to suit her circumstances.
Like all well organized and established institutions, certain laws, instructions and accountant-General circulars, govern the Enugu state ministerial accounting. These include:-
i. Chapter v of the constitution of Eastern Nigeria law of 1963
ii. The funds and accounts laws
iii. The Enugu state financial instructions
iv. Enugu state civil service rules
The accountant-General is the chief accounting officer of Enugu state government and has specific responsibility for the production, management and supervision of government accounts.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE STUDY:
This study is an evaluation of the accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries with special reference to the ministry of finance.
1.3 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
Both government and non-governmental organizations set up the accounting procedure of technique that will suit their purposes with reference to established accounting principles and guidelines.
In the same vein, a typical government establishment like Enugu state ministry of finance operates by using such accounting procedures as would serve its purpose and discharge its obligations to the citizens that it was established to serve. Its accounting procedure takes care of all receipts and payments it has made in a particular period of time. It does not write business concern will do. The profit and loss are not carried forward to the next accounting period, hence all its activities starts at the beginning of any given year and ends at close of that particular year.
The problems inherent in this sort of situation are what the researchers have set out to examine and to bring out the reasonable answer after evaluation. Specifically, the study will address itself to the following:
i. Does the accounting technique or procedure in Enugu state ministry of finance suit government activities?
ii. Is the accounting procedure efficient?
These questions are aimed at exposing the lapses inherent and attendant in the techniques of ministerial accounting in Enugu state.
The accounting procedure employed are such that it records all receipts of revenue generated in the state and the expenditures made therefrom, as contained in the year’s budget estimate (as set out in the 2010 approved estimates).
1.4 LIMITATION OF THE PROBLEM
The limitations inherent in the technique or procedure is that it does not at any given time show the ministry’s stand financially, considering assets and liabilities. At the end of the year, the financial returns reflect only revenue and expenditure. It is silent over land and buildings, furniture and equipments and their depreciations.
1.5 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The researchers have set forth in this study to evaluate and present a fresh in-sight into the nature and structure of accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries with a view to enable the public appreciate the various limitations inherent in that system with special reference to ministry of finance.
Fresh accountants who had in the past been employed by the government have to take fresh course in government accounting system or face the embarrassing situation where ordinary accounts clerks have to coach them. It is surprising that graduates of accountancy who did not pass through any of the above stated trainings cannot perform the required government accounting duties. This is because accountancy course syllabus in the past does not incorporate government accounting in both Nigerian universities and colleges of education.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is that it will expose the inherent limitations of accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries. It will highlight areas of inefficiency and delay, “red tepism” in the civil service. The most important significance is that it will attempt to bridge the gap that exists in the teaching and learning of accounting as practiced by government and in government ministries.
The facts embodies in this research will present to the uninitiated, accounting students, the new professionals and the general reading public, a complement to other existing accounting text books.
This study recommends itself to politicians who are interested in running political offices in government.
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
For the purpose of carrying out an effective research and evaluation, the research questions would include the following.
i. Is the educational qualification of the workers adequate?
ii. How did you get to learn the government accounting system?
iii. Suggestions for improvement.
1.8 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
The researchers have the intention of covering at least 60% of all the ministries in Enugu state as the study is on general accounting system operating in Enugu state ministries but due to constraints, cost, study requirement and for the purpose of detailed study, the researchers have restricted the scope to a particular ministry which is a good specimen ministry in Enugu state -the ministry of finance.
Another limitation is with regards to stores control and organization. This is governed by Enugu state financial instructions volume 1. Accounting officers are not deployed to stores as government central purchases are made in the cabinet office. Therefore, this study did not cover the organization and control of stores.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
In order to avoid misconception of the framework that is being laid down, the following definition of terms are given.
a) Accounts general: means accountant general of Enugu state of Nigeria who is the chief accounting officer of the state.
b) Accounting officer: any officer charged by the ministry with the duty of accounting for any service in respect of money.
c) Appropriation law: means the law enacted in each year, the principal purpose of which is the appropriation of public funds for such services as are specified in such law.
d) Consolidation revenue fund: means the consolidated revenue fund established by section 56 of the constitution of eastern Nigeria.
e) Legislature: means the state house of assembly
f) Accounting system: means a systematic way of recording, analysis, interpretation and presentation of organizations in financial terms.
g) Estimates: means budget for revenue and expenditure of Enugu state government for a particular financial year.
h) Remittance: means disposition of government cash balance to different stations.
i) Financial instruction: means financial document which embodies a number of methods or uniformity in the recording of certain financial transactions, events and positions to aid the achievement of accountability.