This project is aimed at looking into the accounting profession in details and examining its role in societal development. A study of the evolution of accounting suggests that accounting processes are reactive because they have developed primarily in response to business needs. Also the development of accounting process has been related to economic progress and societal development of a country. History shows that the higher the level of Civilization or development, this more elaborate and wider the accounting method becomes. Since Picoli’s days to this present day, accounting has recorded a lot of tremendous changes and growth all over the universe. For instance during the first sixty years of the twentieth century, a major economic and societal force had thrown the accounting profession into new frontiers and responsibilities. The factors contributing to this growth are the increase in the population of large corporate business in the affairs of business by way of taxation and business regulations, technological advancement especially in the area of computerization – which has rapidly changed the process of data procession. These factors, to a great extent, have deeply contributed tot he development of the accounting profession over the years. The role of computer in the accounting profession has facilitated the traditional functions such as payroll, cost accounting and general bookkeeping. It is also being used for analytical purposes such as forecasting, cost benefit, analysis, etc. As professionals, accountants are expected to demonstrate a responsibility tot he public services above their commitment to personal economic gains.
Accountants recognize that the special esteem. They enjoy obligates them to work for the improvement of society. Complimenting their obligation to society, accountants have analytical and evaluative skills needed in the solution of the over-growing problems of the universe. The special abilities of accountants as well as their independence and ethical standards, permit them to make significant and unique contribution in such areas as protecting the public interest, preserving environment interest and controlling and improving public programmes. In recent times, the work of accountants increased in scope. The reward as added to the accounting profession include installation of accounting system, auditing and investigation management of social activities and host of others. It is also of importance to note that the increase in the scope of accounting give rise to complex problems, which accountants must encounter. This is why competent accountants are needed in the various areas (i.e. to ease the accounting problems facing the management of companies and the society in general). Apart from providing accounting information, the accountant also gives his opinion on a wide range of representations such as sales statistics, lease agreement, etc. or the fact that, accounting is not only for the good of the individual accountants have to be conscious of the society’s benefit. This is because social responsibility and service tot he public is the major objective of the accounting profession.
Thus, there is the need for the accountants to develop a social attitude towards their profession. Recall that the accountant is duty bound to exercise his duties with reasonable care, skill and diligence. He must offer his integrity and reputation to the public, which relies on his judgment and pinion.
1.2 OBJECTIVE OF STUDY
In view of the purpose of accounting and how it affects the society generally, this study is designed to achieve the following objectives.
i. Identify the users of accounting information
ii. Highlight the importance of accounting information to its various users
iii. Highlight the role played by accountants toward providing accounting information to its users
iv. The contributions of the accounting information towards societal development
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY It is hoped that this study when completed will
i. Be able educate the management of firms on how important it is to tailor their accounting information requirement in such a way that they can take decisions which will help maximum the objective(s) of the business;
ii. Be able to educate shareholders (prospective ones inclusive) on how to watch out for profitable and viable firms in which to invest their capital;
iii. Provide prospective employees with information that will enable them look out for companies that can offer them safe employment through growth over the period of time;
iv. Equip trade uncoils with methods of calculating the claims for higher wages and better conditions for labour
v. provide creditors with the acid test with which to know if a prospective debtor can keep can keep to the terms of credit;
vi. assist the government and its agents on effective revenue generation and allocation;
vii. help consumers to use accounting data to asses the viability of a company (with respect to long term contracts);
viii. sensitizes comptitors towards using accounting information for purposes of companies;
ix. Bring accountants to remembrance in respect to their roles in societal development.
1.4 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The accountancy profession is faced with ‘teething’ problems, some of which include:
i. Professional Abuse and Indiscipline: This is where an accountant (for instance) fails to keep to the ethics of the accounting profession. The accountant here forgets that the owes a fiduciary responsibility to his clients and the public in general. Cases of this comes up where accountants encourage their clients to void paying the tax they should be intentionally declaring a huge operating loss for tax purposes where the client actually made profit during the basis period of assessment. This false declaration does not only obtain for tax purposes. You also see it where in a bid to help their client obtain loans from financial institutions, accountants falsely declare very high profits in order to enhance their client’s opportunity of obtaining loan.
ii. Imposition by Management and Top Government Officials: Offer times, accountants are reduced to the level of terms paper tigers. They can only bank but cannot bite. They are threatened by these officials. Failure to keep to such an injunction may lead tot he disengage of the accountant’s duties (or even death). As a result, accountants keep closed eyes on such situations.
iii. Inadequate Internal Control System: Failure to install and implement an adequate internal control system hampers effective auditing. This is because there are no proper checks and balances established to curb the excesses of the management and staff of an organization.
iv. Inadequate Method of Data Processing: Nigeria is still faced with the problem of the manual system of recording and processing financial data into usable information. This system, as we know is very tedious and prone to error(s). The computer; till data, is still out of the reach of may organization (especially the small scale business) due to its exorbitant each outlay. If this were to be made available to interested buyers at subsisted amounts, the headache associated with the manual system of operation will be reduced to the barest minimum.
v. The Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN): This body is among the problems to reckon with so long as the accounting profession is concerned. Many a time, graduate accountants are denied jobs because they do not have a certificate to show that they are members of this body. In recent times, it row seems as if it would be easier for a camel to pass the ICAN Exams. As a matter of fact, persons who though chartered in some other country but somehow finds themselves here in Nigeria, are not recognized as professional accountants until they charter with the ICAN. These are the problems (among many others) that the researcher can mention. These and other similar problems cannot be solved without a research of this kind. Hence in study, the researcher would advance solution to the problems and t the same time make very useful recommendations that will both alleviate these problems and enhance the prospects of the role of accounting in the development of the Nigerian society.
1.5 HYPOTHESIS FORMULATION
With regard to the problems identified above as well as the objective of the study, the researcher has these propositions to make:
Ho: Accounting information is not important to its users.
Hi: Accounting information is important to its users
Ho: Nigerian accountants have not been participating in social development.
Hi: Nigerian accountants have been participating in societal development.
Ho: Accounting information is insignificant to societal development.
Hi: Accounting information is significant to societal development.
Ho: Adequate internal control system is not necessary in the provision of accounting information.
Hi: Adequate internal control system is necessary for reliable accounting information.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study will cover the externalist trade of accounting, the purpose of accounting, the users of accounting information, the problems facing accountants in the present day Nigeria and the role of accounting in societal development (in Nigeria). This researcher work was constrained by academic workload, inadequate finance, time and other ancillary problems. The data required for this work was not easy to get because the respondents, though co-operative, were not always available when their assistance was needed. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the study will represent the role played by the accounting profession in societal development. The conclusive drawn from the researcher is hoped to be of empirical relevance to the people of Nigeria.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
BANK DISTRESS: This is a state of being in difficulty by a bank as a result of lack of money.
BUDGET A plan expressed in financial terms, which covers a period, usually one year and contains the income and expenditure of an organization within the period as well as policy to be pursued during the period for the attainment of the set standard.
CLIENT: A company or individual to which an accountant owes a profession duty to render special service which is under a contract term for a period.
COMPUTER: An electronic data processing device used to facilitate data processing and its storage for use when needed.
INTERNAL CONTROL: The whole system of control, financial and otherwise, established by management to carry on the business of the enterprise, in an efficient and orderly manner, to ensure adherence to management policies, safeguard the asset and secure as far as possible the completeness and accuracy of the records.
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