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New Zealand Finance.

(From the London " Statist.") According to the revenue returns of New Zealand for the financial year ended March 31st, particulars of which only arrived by last mail,, that colony has at length emerged from one of the longest and most severe periods of depression to which it. has ever- been subjected. It ought to be explained at the outset that, as with monetary crises which have overtaken more than one Australasian colony, the cloud which has so long overshadowed the development and public credit of New Zealand is due to reckless borrowing of English money, and the squandering of it on public works, some of which have proved as unproductive as they were needless. It was modestly proposed to add ten millions Bterling to her Government Debt m 1870. Since that date, however, no less than thirty millions have been added. For upwards of fain years the steady influx of British capital created a structure of false prosperity m the colony, accompanied with such wild speculative manias and extravagant forms of living as have recently been witnessed elsewhere m Australasia. New Zealand, like South Australia, has done penance for her folly; and comes but of the trial stronger, more self-reliant, and more prudent for the discipline she has undergone, while Victoria and Queensland have just suffered a temporary check to their material progress, consequent upon the commission of similar faults; and it is to be hoped that m their case an effect not less wholesome inf»y ensud.; An almost invariable index of the condition of any well-established colony being abnormal, is that its imports largely and persistently exceed its exports ; and as regards New Zealand m 1874, m the heyday of rash borrowing and lavish expenditure, such was the course of events. In that year the imports amounted to £8,373,111, against exports reaching only £5,433,600. On the other hand, for the last year the imports did not exceed £5,998,224, and for the present year they will not exceed £6,270,000. So that, compared with fifteen yearS ago, the imports are two millions less. But the increase m exports m that interval is atill more marked than the (shrinkage m imports. This year the exports are valued at £9,714,513. The significance of these figures is emphasised when they are viewed m relation to population. In 1873, with ■ 295,946 inhabitants, goods to the value of £6,332,295 were imported, being at the rate of £21 7s lid per head. In '. 1889, with more than double the population, the amount of imports is actually : smaller ; the natural inference being that increased efforts were made m the interim to supply local wants from internal sources. While the Pactolus of easily-gotten loans flowed from England, and wasteful public expenditure followed, people withdrew from productive industries m the country and thronged the towns m the expectation of benefiting by the free circulation of Government money and the gambling m property directly resulting from that cause. For some years past, however, during which the colony has been righting itself, imports have been almost stationary. When we turn to the exports, the triumph of a frugal Government policy-be-comes strikingly apparent. The aggregate export values as. given above for the year ending m March last show a million and a half m excess of exports m the previous year, and an advance m round numbers of three and a half millions m excess of imports. It is some considerable time since New Zealand has felt justified m coming as a borrower into the English markofc, and the Government are so fully satisfied m every respect with the result of the colony being thrown for a time completely upon its own resources for the development of enterprise and the production of wealth, that they seem disinclined for the moment to augment further their indebtedness to British lenders. It would be well if they could inoculate with this honourable intention neighbouring colonies whose apparent expansion is mainly due to borrowed capital. It is not a little surprising that m the revenue returns the customs should be about £50,000 below the estimate, especially as the imports had for so long been comparatively at a standstill, owing partially to the rigid economy m living practised by all classes of community, and partly to the evasion of duties which Protectionist tendencies m the New Zealand Parliament have, of late, inordinately. The public accounts exhibit a surplus of £115,974, which it is hoped, may be employed, m relieving taxation, that tillers of the soil may be encouraged to improve their holdings and thus increase the wealth of the State. We are unwilling to indulge the remotest suspicion that the surplus m New Zealand should turn out to. be illusory, as happened a few months since with respect to a surplus affirmed by the Victorian Treasurer to exist m his .Budget. In any case, fche faot may be implicitly accepted that New Zealand, with a population of 600,000, has exported m 12 months produce amounting to about £10,000,0C0. This contrasts most favourably with Victoria, which boasts double the number of inhabitants, whose exports for the Bame period were only £13,000,000, a considerable portion consisting of goods re-exported. So that it is more than doubtfttf if the hoi\ci fide exports of Victorianiindustry exceeds the 1 actual value of New Zealand exports. It is plain that I by liquidating lier adverse trade balance and the interest payable on her public debt m England, she sayes m exchange as well as makes a profit pn what she buys with the proceeds of what sha exports.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900815.2.6

Bibliographic details

New Zealand Finance., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2492, 15 August 1890

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927

New Zealand Finance. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2492, 15 August 1890

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