The Department of Accounting at the University of Ghana Business School, UGBS, took its turn to host the Covid, Business and Society Seminar (COBUSS) on June 11, 2020 via Zoom. The seminar looked at issues arising from the global pandemic, with a particular focus on accounting and the global impact and response. The speakers were Dr Samuel N.Y. Simpson, a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Accounting, Dr George Baah, a Professor in Accounting and Finance, Quinnipiac University School of Business, USA, and Mr. Hayfron Aboagye, a Partner with PWC (Ghana) who also serves as the Accounting Department’s Corporate Executive in Residence. Professor Justice Bawole, the Dean of UGBS, facilitated the seminar.
Dr George Baah who presented on the topic “The impact of Covid-19 on the Accounting Profession & Education” spoke extensively on the Covid-19 eruptions. Addressing the teaching and student disruptions, he expressed that course planning and delivery, as well as student engagement and class attendance, had been immensely impacted. He hinted that a number of students are also missing their colleagues as well as feeing uncertain about their future. On institutional disruptions, he spoke on its effect on academic plan, course delivery, student boarding and budgetary. Speaking on the Accounting Profession, he mentioned how physical business operations has also been affected, especially in aspects such as business continuation, product delivery and hiring. While speaking on Future Direction and Opportunities, he remarked that “technology in accounting education is here to stay, so we need to embrace it.” He then added that Universities will incorporate more technology education in their accounting programmes (e.g. ACCA). Dr. Baah concluded by stating that accounting courses have to be redesigned in ways that would enable accounting graduates take advantage of the additional skills employers will be looking for.
Dr Samuel N.Y. Simpson spoke on the topic “Covid-19: A test or an Opportunity for Adopting ESG Practices.” He stated that ESG covers the Environmental, Social and Governance issues that are vital to understanding the purpose, strategy and management qualities of companies. He continued to speak deeply about the aspects of ESG, where the environment discusses how an organisation acts as a nature steward; the social explores how a business handles its relationships with workers and the society; whiles governance deals with how an organisation is governed. Dr Simpson spoke about the motivation for ESG Practices, where he mentioned the need to operate within values and norms of society and the need to build and protect public trust. “Quasi Regulatory Bodies should find ways to respond to ESG conversations, and the accounting and finance professions should adapt, improve and guide their skills to deal with ESG issues,” the speaker added. He further stated that Value Chain, Supply Chain, Workforce and Crisis Management, were areas that needed attention. He went on to add that ESG must become part of the general company strategy.
The final speaker, Mr. Hayfron Aboagye, addressed the subject "The Impact of Covid-19 on Public Financial Management (PFM)." He began by describing the PFM process and noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the evaluation of PFM systems of several countries in a number of ways. "Transparency and accountability of public funds is essential to building public confidence during the crisis," therefore, noting that the Supreme Audit Agencies need to be prepared to identify the different threats and devise a very effective response to resolve them. He advised that the actions undertaken by governments and PFM actors must be agile, ready to move as the response progresses and recovery begins, involving key shareholders to ensure the appropriate design and targeting of PFM policy actions are critical during response and recovery. Finally, he discussed the need for government and PFM actors to invest in technology and implement creative approaches.
The presentations were accompanied by Question and Answer sessions for each speaker.
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