1.1 Background to the Study

The concept of internal control is said to trace its history back to the beginning of the 20th century when audit on financial statements came into being, it has consistently evolved to what it is presently due to continuous change in the business environment (Heier, Dogan and Sayers, 2005). The expansion of the world economy and the scale of enterprises growth after the turn of the century brought about major challenges in management leading to adoption of control systems that encompassed the entire enterprise. Xiaofang and HuiliIn (n.d) cited that in 1992, the US Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) promoted the concept and elements of internal control in its report ‘Internal Control- Integrated Framework’. COSO published ‘ERM-IF’ in 2004, and made the internal control and enterprise management closely integrated by breaking the previous limitations of internal control. Teketel and Berhanu (2009) made it known that small and medium enterprise (SMEs) constitute currently the major part of economic activities in the world. Nowadays, they represent about 99% of all types of enterprises on the globe and provide high job opportunities to its labour force. Similarly, Ashamu (2014) indicated that micro and small businesses are believed to be the engine room for the development of any economy because they form the bulk of business activities in a growing economy like that of Nigeria. Jiang (2010) made it known that SMEs are very important force for economic and social development. They play an important part in increasing national income, providing tax revenue and jobs. However, with the development of SMEs, their internal problems are gradually exposed, especially in the financial crisis of 2008, a large number of small and medium enterprises closed down, the reason is: the construction of internal control deficiency of SMEs.

A system of effective internal controls is a critical component of SME management and a foundation for the safe and sound operation of organizations. A system of strong internal controls can help to ensure that the goals and objectives of an SME will be met, that the business will achieve long-term profitability targets and maintain reliable financial and managerial reporting. Such a system can also help to ensure that the SME will comply with laws and regulations as well as policies, plans, internal rules and procedures, and decrease the risk of unexpected losses or damage to the business. Ishola, Abikoye and Olajide (2015) posited that retail business in which customer have direct access to small product can also benefit enormously from internal control procedure while internal control are crucial from helping you detect dishonesty, it can also help you to reduce risk that simple mistake will keep you from seeing in your organization, concentrate on poverty as detected inadvertent errors, so setting up a system of internal control can keep such problem from getting out of hand. When you have internal control in place, you are protecting your assets as well as the accuracy of the accounting record in proper place of accountability. The type of control to put in place depend largely on the size and nature of the organization i.e. either a private or public sector as in the content of these studies lies on a public sector organization.

According to Chukwu (2012), for an organisation to carry out its business there must be some resources put in place for the smooth running of the organisation like, materials. machines, money etc. These need to be well co-ordinated in order for the success of the organisation to be achieved. These factors are used by a group of persons known as management. Management can neither exist without an organisation as both are inseparable. The system of internal control therefore provides assurances to management on the dependability of the accounting data used in the decision making of the organisation.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Due to the business scale, human resource, financial and its own conditions etc. many SMEs are unwilling to establish the standard internal control system. They believe that establishing internal control system is a high cost method, which will bring heavy burden to the enterprise and maybe without significant results cannot compare with the managers manage all aspects of business directly. Even the SMEs with an established internal control system tend to shy away from monitoring the system as they are of the illusion that the system is working efficiently and optimum benefits is derived from this system. It is against this backdrop this research tend to examine internal control systems established in SMEs as a tool for efficiency in the management of SMEs.

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