Mr. Francis to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Lisbon , March 5, 1884. (Received March 24.)
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following résumé of the condition of Portuguese finances and of the “ordinary budget” for the year 1884–’85, which was presented by Senhor Hihtz Ribeiro, minister [Page 444] of finance, to the Cortes, on the 5th of January last, together with the estimates of public receipts and expenditures for that period:
|Junta of public credit||13,093,678||14,191,172 00|
|Ministry of finance||2,206,160||2,382,652 00|
|Ministry of interior||2,201,574||2,377,699 00|
|Ministry of justice||639,814||690,999 00|
|Ministry of war||4,588,000||4,955,040 00|
|Ministry of marine and colonies||1,776,000||1,918,080 00|
|Ministry of public works||2,831,000||3,057,480 00|
|Ministry of foreign affairs||330,000||356,400 00|
|Direct taxes||6,280,890||6,783,361 00|
|Stamps and registration||3,248,600||3,508,488 00|
|Indirect taxes and customs||16,171,210||17,464,906 00|
|Additional tax||1,057,000||1,141,560 00|
|Sale of national domain and miscellaneous receipts||3,336,520||3,603,441 00|
|Repayment and sundries||1,100,817||1,188,882 00|
A statement of the expenditures as estimated in detail, together with the most important items of anticipated revenue accompanies this dispatch. The latter is especially interesting as illustrating the extent and resources of taxation in this Kingdom.
From a report laid before the Cortes by the minister of finance on the 16th February ultimo it appears that the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the Kingdom during the year 1883–’84 exceeded the estimates by the sum of 1,716,000 ($1,853.28 millreis), while the revenue was $259,200 less.
It appears from an official statement recently made to the Cortes by the minister of finance that the funded debt of this Kingdom was as follows:
|June 30, 1883||$465,320,494|
|Charges thereon, interest. &c||1,209,297|
|Loans already made (sanction for which is asked of the Cortes) to liquidate floating debt, &c. ($18,005,417), and to defray other expenses||38,880,000|
|Total debt of Portugal||504,200,494|
During the last decade the increase of the public debt of this Kingdom has been fully $180,000,000. It should be stated in extenuation, however, that railroad and other important public improvements completed by the Government within the period named represent a larger sum than this augmented public indebtedness.
Notwithstanding the annual deficits in the budgets of the Kingdom and the steady increase of the public indebtedness—now quite as large, per capita, as is that of Great Britain—it is a fact that the public credit of Portugal is quite steadily sustained. Its 3 per cent, securities at the ruling rates stand about 52, showing an interest of considerably less [Page 445] than 6 per cent, which the Government has to pay upon its loans, the latter, however, bringing to the treasury little more than 50 per cent, of the amount of debt incurred.
It is conceded by prudent statesmen and thoughtful business men here that the debt of Portugal is now quite as heavy as can be borne by this people and that any material increase of the burden would involve grave peril to the public credit—already sufficiently strained—and to the business interests of the country.
The minister of finance makes a recommendation to the Cortes that the tax on salt consumed in the Kingdom be reduced from 8 to 3 reis a litre, and that the tax on imported alcohol be reduced from $2.16 a decalitre (2 1/5 gallons) to $1.29.
An export duty of 1 per cent. is now imposed upon gold and silver coin. A proposition to suspend this duty at the discretion of the Government has been unanimously accepted in the House of Deputies, and will no doubt be enacted into law.
I have, &c.,