Ghana: SME’s and Case for Hiring of Certified Bookkeepers

Public Agenda (Accra)

John Horsoo

20 January 2012


An inefficient Financial Administration System can call for everyone’s concern. All over the world big and small businesses are mandated by laws to properly keep records of their financial transactions. But that is not what we see in business entities in Ghana.

Financial Administration broadly covers receipts and payments for all financial transactions, equity investment, procurement of goods and services, preparation of statements of accounts, and the definition of accounting policies as well as the classifications of responsibilities of qualified accounts officers amongst others.

If mediocrity is prevalent in a financial system, the system leaks heavily; it also bleeds a great deal if steps are not taken to cure the disease. Similarly, if structures are nonexistent, ‘quacks’ can prescribe half-baked medications for systemic ailments and some even misdiagnose the symptoms.

Our financial administration has been bleeding for sometime now. Added to the non-existence of solid effective functional structures, very important accounting information is derived from incomplete accounting figures since we gloss over the crucial aspects of bookkeeping. It is in fact not surprising that we base many business decisions on inaccurate records and information generated thereof.

We have reached a point where we ought to redress the issues of mediocrity, institutional weaknesses and financial illiteracy as well as non- compliance to statutory regulations on accountability.

Right from our Local Government institutions through our health institutions, the NHIS, our NGO’s educational institutions, to table top traders and shop owners, lack of adequately trained mid-level finance and accounting personnel is a large dented gray area in our financial system. In order to stop further embarrassments due to mediocrity and loss of revenue due to improper records coupled with the need to strengthen our structures everywhere that financial transactions occur, we ought to fill such positions with dependable professionals like Certified Bookkeepers who can, together work with Certified Accountants, facilitate a cure to the ailments within our financial administration system. This seems urgent and crucial.

I think if we do so we would, in the long run, meet the manpower requirements of the oil and gas sector too. In fact the yawning gap between Chartered Accountants and Accounts Clerks is the main cause of our inability to thoroughly cleanse the system because we simply lack the skilled manpower for the job.

Clearly Bookkeeping is important for the purposes of accountability and financial success.

Bookkeeping is an accounting term which simply means keeping books of accounts. These books form the backbones of accounting and accountability, and without these records, internal controls break down, no financial reporting occurs, and financial decisions are taken in a mist of gray vapour. As a result money is lost, taxes are not paid, and businesses even collapse.

A Certified Bookkeeper is a unique professional in the accountancy profession. The professional bookkeeper records, builds accounts, create or prepare accounts for private and public organizations.

Certified Bookkeepers provide key accounting services and perform every function in their accounting roles from documentation, recording, storage, retrieval and interpretation of accounting data. Bookkeepers also facilitate in no small measure management decision making and equally serve as advisors in the areas of Tax returns and performance evaluations. They are also experts in tax assessment and payroll management, budgeting and bank reconciliation.

It is true that several SME’s are not able to hire fulltime Chartered Accountants. In view of this it must be recommended that they engage Certified Bookkeepers to start with.

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