Mr. Francis to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Lisbon, January 18, 1883. (Received February 6.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 23, I have the honor to state that the minister of finance makes public, in the official journal of the 13th instant, the following statement in reference to the floating debt of Portugal on the 31st December last:
|Debt registered on books of the treasury to order of general fund of deposits||1,250,000$|
|Obligations of the treasury to order of individuals||3,317,000$|
|On account of loan of May 9, 1879||4,450,709$|
|Total floating debt||11,717,809$|
|The floating debt on January 1, 1882, was||$6,788,741|
|It will be seen that at the end of the year it had increased to $12,655,233, showing an augmentation of||5,866,492|
It is to be remarked respecting the floating indebtedness as above set forth that the sum last named covers the increase of the public debt during the year 1882, namely, $5,866,492. And of the entire floating indebtedness it may be said that it has accrued for most part on account of important public works, mainly for the construction of railroads, which it is claimed will be of great permanent advantage to the country, adding largely to its wealth and opening up resources which cannot fail to prove a source of increasing revenues. Upon this point, and referring to the last paragraph in my No. 20, I submit the following statement as to the material situation and prospects of Portugal, which, taking the optimist view of affairs, I have reason to believe quite accurately reflects the opinions of the existing Portuguese ministry and of many sagacious business men of the Kingdom.
Says the Portuguese Publicist, who furnishes me this statement:
The year just closed has been a happy one for us; our progress and prosperity have been strengthened. We can now affirm, in general terms, in the absence of precise official data, that the collection of taxes has reached a figure far greater than had been anticipated, that the commercial movement has increased throughout the country, that exportations have augmented, and that the receipts of the railways have in every instance shown a regular increase.
During 1882 two lines of railway have been opened to traffic; new lines of steamers either national or foreign, established stopping places in the ports of this Kingdom for the vessels of their fleets, thus securing a more frequent system of communication with Africa, Asia, and America, as well as with European ports.[Page 736]
Surveys for important lines of railway have been made during the last year; and this is also true as regards our territorial possessions in Africa and the Indies.
The railway and telegraph system have been extended and much improved, not only for the ordinary service, but for intercolonial and international purposes as well.
We have concluded an advantageous treaty with France, and we have made or perfected other treaties or commercial conventions with several States of America, Asia, and Oceanica, bearing conditions which will bring great advantages to our commerce and our industry.
The commercial situation is also improved; a diminution in the number of failures justifies this assertion. The condition of the banks and other financial establishments has been in general very regular; many of these institutions have seen the circle of their business extended and their legitimate influence greatly augmented thereby.
Important companies have been organized with Portuguese capital mainly for the working of mines.
The public debt and other obligations of the State have been much sought after, and large transactions have been regularly made in Portugal and abroad, and invariably on terms favorable to the public credit.
The crops have in general been rather more abundant than those of a good medium year; that of wine rather greater than usual. Great success has attended the fisheries.
As regards the political situation, certain reforms which are considered indispensable will be carried out under the care and vigilance of a Government which is liberal and conservative, intelligent and experienced; nor need these reforms inspire anxiety. Among these a reorganization of the House of Peers is in contemplation. It is proposed that in future it shall be designated the senate, and shall consist of 150 members, 50 to be chosen by the King and appointed for life, 50 to represent the various-sections of the community, and the remaining 50 to be elected by a double process of voting.
In conclusion, if in our exterior relations some questions of serious import may have presented themselves, either with France, England, or the Holy See, they have been discussed and resolved with no loss of honor to any one, or they are in the way to an easy and satisfactory solution.
The only drawback which we have to deplore during the past year is the great progress made by the phylloxera among our vines.
I have, &c.,