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Adventures in Accounting

4 Jan 2012

‘So we talked about how we have three new grants opening,’ I said.

 

The Finance Assistant clicked with his mouth, which is how you convey understanding here.

 

‘This means we will charge some things to more than one grant.’

 

He made another click with his cheek and his tongue.

 

‘I’m sure you know how to do this but let’s do a practice to make sure we do it the same.'

 

I paused so he could click again and then I continued.

 

 ‘OK. So, if someone has a salary of 2,000 pounds and we need to charge 25% of someone’s salary to the UNHCR grant, how would be calculate that?’

 

The Finance Assistant reached for the calculator on his desk. He entered “2000”, then he pressed the multiplication sign, and then he entered “25”.

 

The calculator displayed “50,000”.

 

He was puzzled. He cleared the calculator and performed the operation again.

 

Again the calculator displayed “50,000”.

 

I let him think it over another moment and when he hesitated I said, as though just realizing the solution, ‘OK, you know what we forgot?’ I drew the formula on a sheet of paper.

 

2,000 x 25% =

 

‘Remember, when we multiply with a percentage, we have to cross out the “%” but in order to cross it out, we have to move the decimal two places to the left.’

 

I demonstrated this with the pen on the paper. The Finance Assistant performed the operation on his calculator and this time it displayed “500”, which he considered to be more reasonable.

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