Page images

joined to them, show that there have been made good in the said second Year 134,414,441 reals 10 maravedis, for effects previous to the Year 1821, and 600,136,957 reals 7 maravedis, for effects belonging to the second economical Year; that there arises a surplus on the Estimates of the first Year, considered generally; though in particular, and at the commencement of the third economical Year, there remain due to the voted Estimates of the second Year, 191,255,313 reals 1 maravedi. It does not appear necessary, on the present occasion, to advert to the inequality which has occurred during the two Years, and in consequence of which, less from some branches, and more from others, have been collected. The Minister, in the Memorial already cited, has said enough upon the cause of this difference, which solely deserves to be noticed under a regular order of things, when the Estimates necessary for all the details of the Service omit nothing, keep a due proportion to the resources, and allow to no branch a preference over another. Besides, the foresight of the Cortes has prepared a remedy for this evil, by means of the system of account and reckoning wisely established by its Decree of the 7th of May of this Year. The Government hastened to carry this Decree into execution, by means of the Instruction which it published on the 9th of June, and has constantly followed up the same object, amidst the various obstacles of time and circumstances which have been opposed to its complete adjustment. The same circumstances have been little favourable, or rather, we might say, altogether unfavourable to the Publick Finances, in what we have to state respecting the third economical Year. The occurrences of the first days of that Year rendered torpid the publick service, more particularly in the Capital, from whence proceed all the measures of the Government, and the result of the collection in the Provinces was, as might be expected, thereby greatly influenced.

When I took charge of the Finance Department on the 7th of August, the Decrees of the Cortes respecting the Contributious granted during its last Legislature were in circulation, but they had not failed to suffer some delay, both in the Secretariat of the Congress, and that of my Department, by the hindrance experienced in the dispatch of business in general, during the melancholy days of last July. The Intendants of the Provinces, newly created in the Divisions of the Territory decreed by the Cortes, were already appointed, as well as the Chiefs who were to be established, as well in them as in the Old Provinces, in conformity to the Administrative System ultimately established; but these Functionaries could not themselves repair to their Appointments, nor establish their Offices and Stations, without a precipitation which caused great ultimate injury to the Service. Every thing is now sufficiently forward, and I hope that in a little time all will be settled in the Provinces.

But the Collection has suffered, as might have been feared, from what I have stated. In the month of June, it amounted to the sum of 30,172,120 reals 1 maravedi, on the liquid productions; it fell in July to 18,066,197 reals 10 maravedis; it increased in August to 29,782,009 reals 7 maravedis, according to the Accounts received from the greater part of the Provinces (for from all, and particularly from the Islands, nothing could hitherto be collected;) and I have good reason to hope that it will increase progressively in the succeeding months, as the Government will act with greater energy, now that the Territory is properly divided; as strict Orders have been communicated to the Intendants to enforce the Collections with exactness, by means of the authority vested in them by the Cortes; and as the Government has noticed, and will continue to notice with severity, the neglect and want of zeal of its Agents. Thus the Collection will be ameliorated, and, in all parts of the economical Administration of the State, will be felt the beneficial influence of a just rigour, applied with an equal impartiality to the Chief of a Province and to the lowest of his Subalterns, whenever their conduct may deserve it.

Nor do the last month's receipts of the Loan contracted on the 22d of November, 1821, offer an adequate resource to the Ministry, considering how limited was the produce of the Revenue and Taxes which came into the Publick Treasury. On the 7th of August there was received from that Channel, according to the Statements of the Treasurer-General, the amount of 117,613,037 reals 22 maravedis, of which sum 9,000,000 were appropriated to the payment of the Dividends of the same Loan for the half-year ending last May, 600,000 reals to the liquidation of the expenses of the furnishing of Certificates of Dividends, and 3,000,000 to its redemption or extinction. Consequently, since the 7th of August, only 4,500,000 of the real proceeds of the said Loan could have been appropriated.

The present state of this Loan will be understood from the details furnished by the Director of the Great Book of the Publick Debt. The Cortes will see from them that the Rentes at 5 per Cent. which have been placed in the hands of Ardouin, Hubbard, and Co. as securities, amount to 36,713,432 reals 4 maravedis: first, 92,734,321 reals, Capital, at the price of the Negotiation of the securities of the old Loans placed in the hands of the Government Agents; secondly, 134,400,000 reals, the produce of the monthly payments in specie, stipulated in the aforesaid Contract of the 22d November; and, thirdly, 140,000,000 reals, corresponding to the 14,000,000 of Rentes anticipated in conformity to the same. Certificates of these Rentes have been received, payable in London, to the amount of 27,610,800 reals, and, payable in Paris, to the amount of 1,060,240 reals; in all 28,671,200 reals of Rentes, which have to receive 8,042,232 reals 4

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

maravedis to complete the above stated 36,713,432 reals 4 maravedis of Rentes. Such is the state in which the produce of the old Loans, converted into Rentes of 5 per Cent, remain at the disposal of the Go

[ocr errors]


The conditions of the said Loan being modified, by an Agreement entered into with the aforesaid house of Ardouin, Hubbard, and Co. on the 14th of June last, and approved by the Cortes on the 27th, Government has taken every necessary step for their punctual execution, and to enable the Managers of the Great Book and Sinking Fund to fulfil their respective obligations. The precision of the operations of the first will be seen by the explanation I have given, and the Cortes would do well to acknowledge them; the second will also execute theirs with equal punctuality, as soon as they can be made acquainted with the Mortgages executed by their Agents in London and Paris. I have before mentioned, that since I have held the Office of Minister of Finance, 3,000,000 of reals have been destined to the extinction of Rentes; which furnishes an incontestable proof of the good faith of the Government, and of its punctuality in fulfilling its engagements. And to this, as well as to the punctuality with which the interest and premium of the other Loans are made good, is undoubtedly owing the improvement in the price of these and of the 5 per Cent. Rentes, which has been manifested in the Foreign Markets, and it has already had its effect on the National Market.

If it was urgent to give to the Collection the impulse which was so much wanting to preserve and improve our Credit, it was no less indispensable to promote that of the Revenues of Monopoly and Excise. The contraband system, pursued to an extent of which even the most calamitous times afford no example, diminishes the proceeds of the latter, and almost annihilates those of the former. The establishment of a Maritime Guard is one of the means most likely to remedy so great and transcendant an evil; and in this undertaking the Government, with the sanction of the Cortes, will vigilantly endeavour to obtain the accomplishment of the good effects which are likely to result, if the Shipowners fulfil their obligations with zeal and fidelity, or, if not, to compel them by force to the observance of their duty.

In order that the Revenue might rise to so high an amount, the Government was obliged to resort to extraordinary means, such as negotiating various anticipations on the produce of the Lotteries and the Cruzada, and appealing to the generous patriotism of the worthy Ayuntamiento of the Capital, who, in addition to their services already rendered to publick liberty, cheerfully agreed to perform another equally important one, in the anticipation already effected of 15,000,000 of reals in Bonds and other negotiable Securities on account of the Taxes raised by that Body; a service which the Government highly va

lues, and which more and more confirms the claim of the Ayuntamiento to the publick gratitude.

The state of the Catalonian Provinces has required abundant assistance, and has imposed on the Ministry the duty of approving an anticipation to the Treasury amounting to 6,000,000 of reals, opened by the zealous Authorities of Barcelona, whose conduct merits the praise of the Government, and who are to transmit to the general Treasury whatever sums the anticipation may there produce. Finally, relying on the forthcoming produce of the sale of the Rentes conceded by the Cortes in the last Session to cover the deficit between the Revenue and Expenditure of the economical current Year, and on the express condition of punctual repayment, arrangements were made for transmitting to the General Treasury the Funds which exist in Paris, proceeding from the inscriptions in the Great Book of the Publick Debt of France, in favour of Spaniards, for their indemnification. I know not whether the payment has been realized, but the Government has already made arrangements for the repayment, either to the Holders of the Bills granted by the Treasury-General on that Fund, or to the Fund itself, whether it be or be not made use of; and on this point the Credit of the Nation will remain on a footing consistent with its dignity, thus affording proofs of its being enabled sacredly to fulfil its obligations.

The Negotiation for the Inscriptions to the amount of 30,000,000 granted by the Cortes, and that of the extraordinary Credit of 50,000,000 of reals, for the Ministry of Marine, which belong also to the class of Rentes at 5 per Cent., may at first sight appear under a somewhat favourable aspect. The emission of the 30,000,000 was announced on the 1st of August, and the whole month was appointed for the reception of Proposals. It was necessary to await the event, while the demands of the Treasury were every moment increasing; and amidst the anxiety felt by the Government lest it should not possess the means of supplying its wants, Competitors found a conjuneture favourable to their interested views. Thus all the Propositions were more or less disadvantageous; and though circumstances authorized some sacrifice, yet the Government, circumspect in its proceeding, and anxious to conceal as far as possible the burden under which it laboured, firmly rejected some Propositions, which, from their amount, as well as their conditions, it would have been blameable to accept.

This energetic conduct, though it occasioned a perplexity of some days, multiplied wants, and rendered necessary the adoption of extraordinary measures to meet urgent obligations; it nevertheless placed the Government in an advantageous position with respect to those who, aware of its situation, wished to subject it to sacrifices which would have entailed on it discredit and ruin.

It has already been 'observed, that the Government is not regardless of re-establishing its credit, in a manner as far as possible consistent with the good name of the Spanish Nation, and at the same time of concluding favourable Negociations. For this purpose 3,000,000 of Rentes were appropriated to the extinction of Rentes at 5 per Cent. which, in a great measure, restored its consideration, joined to the political events which have also exercised an advantageous influence.

The result has proved as successful as could be wished, and the Government may congratulate itself on having concluded a Contract sufficiently advantageous, compared with that which preceded it, and with that which would have been obtained, had the resolution of the Government been precipitately taken. Fortunately, measures were taken with sufficient caution; and I have the pleasure of announcing to the Cortes, that to this Assembly we are indebted for an advantage of between 18,000,000 and 20,000,000. But in alluding to this subject, I must not omit an acknowledgment, which I consider as an act of justice, and without which I should not feel that I had discharged my duty. The Government, renouncing all secrecy in this delicate affair, consulted with various Individuals, whose opinions were received before any step was taken. To these Individuals we are indebted for the successful issue of the operation, inasmuch as their intelligence and counsel contributed to bring it to a close. In this affair they evinced an interest truly patriotic, and they have in every respect fulfilled the wishes of the Government. I could here publish the names of those Gentlemen, but the fear of offending them, by so doing, induces me to pass them over in silence.

Such was the state of the Publick Finances at the close of the second economical Year, and such it continues at the present day. On the one hand there appears a deficit of 322,000,000 in the contributions voted by the Cortes for the said second economical Year; on the other hand, there is an arrear in the Estimates of the second Year of the sum of 191,000,000, which must be made up from the Imposts decreed for the third economical Year. Unfortunately, in the Taxes which have been levied during the last Year, considerable difficulty occurred in the collection; as contraband trade greatly diminishes the most productive Taxes; and as the Insurrection, in the Provinces in which it exists, opposes the execution of the administrative provisions, impedes the levying of contributions, and renders null the produce of the Taxes, owing to the vast expense of maintaining the Armed Force necessary for putting down the Rebellion.

The Ministers, in order to fix the demand of Supplies for their Departments, which, among other things, is the object of the Convocation of the present Extraordinary Cortes, have drawn up and addressed

« PreviousContinue »