THE BUDGET PROPOSALS.
To say that the Colonial Treasurer and the Government may be congratulated on the Financial Statement which Sir H. Atkinson was able to submit to Parliament on Tuesday night is but to feebly express the gratification that must have been felt throughout the Colony. After a long and hard struggle New Zealand has " pulled through," to use an expressive colonial phrase. The tide has turned ; the dark days of depressiou are past; our trade is reviving; our foreign markets have improved; and our industries, large and small, (with hardly an exception) show increased activity and steady progress. There is no credit due to the Government for these things, although there is much credit due to our people. But credit is due to Sir Harry Atkinson and his colleagues for having used their best endeavors to pull the State chariot out of the ditch into which his predecessors had overturned it. " The surplus," said Sir Harry, "is not "a large one, but it is a surplus, " and we all have occasioa for " rejoicing at finding the balance "of the account to be on the "right side." The actual expenditure was £100,789 less than the amount authorised; and it is a testimony to the Irusiness capacity of Ministers that they so managed the public accounts as to make the actual revenue collected, which was £IG7,3GG less than was estimated, meet the current demands.
There is none, of the usual sleight-of-hand trickery in the figures presented by Sir 11. Atkixsox. The subsidies to local bodies have not been kept back for payment after the expiration of the financial year, as has been done by other Ministers. The neglect of such local bodies to make application for payment has alone hindered such payment to the extent of .£24,677, which nearly covers the whole surplus; but in 1886 and 1887 much larger sums were due and unpaid to local bodies. Again, there are many items nowcharged to the Consolidated Fund which formerly were charged against loan. Thus, the vote for school buildings has for the first time been paid out of the ordinary taxation. .Several other items have been similarly charged, and yet withal there is a surplus for the year of £77,767. Then £50,000 of deficiency bills issued last year to meet in part the deficiency remaining in March, 1888 a legacy from the StoutVogel Government—have been paid off, and this amount should, in all fairness, be added to the declared surplus.
The country at large will agree with the Premier that it is a satisfactory result of the efforts to live within our means made last session and the session before; that the Colony has not only raised within this year enough revenue to meet the whole of the necessary ordinary expenditure, including in that a sum of at least £52,000 for purposes which have hitherto been invariably provided for from loan, but has also been able to pay off £50,000 of her debt and still have a small surplus in hand. When one comes to contemplate the revenue raised, it must be admitted that, without what Anthony Trollope called " blowing," New Zealand is a wonderful country, with most marvellous powers of recuperation. The total ordinary revenue received for the last financial year was £4,055,034, with a population all told of about 600,000 souls. Is there another country or colony in the world that can show even an approximate parallel to this 1 ? "Such are the results of the year," said Sir Harry Atkinson, with pardonable pride, "and I venture to ''think that they are results with ''which the Colony may well be ''satisfied," as indeed it is, especially when it is remembered that all this has been accomplished with a large
decrease in the Public "Works expenditure, excluding charges and expenses of raising loans, which he points out has fallen from about a million and aquarter sterling in 1885-8G to a little over a quarter of a million in 1888-89. The total amount of the public debt on the 31st March, 1889, was £38,375,000; but of tlrs amount £1,3G0,000 was still in hand at that date, and during the year nearly three-quarters of a million of our indebtedness has been paid off. The balance in our favor of the Public Works Fund again amounts to nearly two millions sterling, "authorised but unraised."
We have no desire to " blow," but well—we have a right to congratulate New Zealand on the pleasant position of her affairs. We have " turned the corner," and some credit is surely due and owing to those who have skilfully guided the helm in troublous seas. There are very many things in the Financial Statement worthy of much more than a passing notice. Meanwhile, let us recognise the sagacity which prompted its delivery just before the English mail left the Colony.
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THE BUDGET PROPOSALS., Evening Star, Issue 7944, 27 June 1889
THE BUDGET PROPOSALS. Evening Star, Issue 7944, 27 June 1889
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