1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
History has it that the concept of accountability of public funds dates backs to the history of ancient Greece. As old as theory is, it would not be erroneous to say that the idea has been equally lost to antiquity although not much is known about it, this makes the subject, government accounting to remain a myth.
Accounting in the public sector has received such a wide attention from scholars that the field of public sector accounting scans to be neglected.
However, there is general awareness all over the world of the need to pay greater attention to the development of government accounting and financial control. The reason is obvious, government, in most, if not all nations constitute the largest single business entity in many places, the core of the economy. Government in any society is basically for maintaining law and order. With changes and the complete nature of the society, government responsibility has automatically changed from the role of maintaining law and order to business like nature in the modern era. The enormous activities of government, equally call for enlarged government accounting in order to accommodate the immense task. As a result of this development, the traditional cash procedures of accounting can hardly meet the demands of reasonable accounting for modern government in providing necessary services or information. Therefore, there is need for government accounting to be dynamic in order to accommodate both the fundamental roles and the developments.
Government accounting is the process of recording, analyzing, classifying, summarizing, communicating and interpreting financial information about government in aggregate and in detail, reflecting all transactions involving the receipts, transfer and disposition of government funds and property. The purpose are to demonstrate the propriety of transactions and their conformity with established rules to give evidence of accountability for the stewardship of government resources and to provide useful information for the good control and efficient management of government operation.
Financial management in the public services as can be observed has failed to encourage and promote the efficient utilization of public funds or serve as effective basis for planning and decision making as well as to ensure proper accountability. Besides, it does not mean that financial irregularities being detected in public sector at large is basically based on traditional cash procedure of accounting but it does arouse a question whether the modern system of accounting will make both modern management and financial management viable.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The problem of this research is to identify these weaknesses and limitations inherent in the cash accounting system of the public sector (in relation to the accounting system of the sample ministry).
This is with a view to propose means of eliminating them completely or at least reducing them to the barest minimum. Put in question form, what are those weaknesses and limitation that militates against adequate and efficient accounting system and financial reporting in the public sector and how can they be eliminated?
Some of these problem witnessed in the public sector includes: the lack of accountability and abuse of delegated authority by the officers in authority, fraud and misappropriation of government funds, as well as lack of expertise and business acumen on the part of those officers. Due to the fact that government operation have been termed “Non-profit oriented operations”, there is no pressure on the part of these government officers to perform up to optimum expectation, accounts are kept in messy shape while the officers get away with lack of proper accountability.
This research is carried out in order to examine the extent to which proper accounts are being kept in the public sector and to offer solution to the inherent problem discovered.
The Enugu State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is used as a sample ministry for this research work.
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