« PrécédentContinuer »
extensive public works have been undertaken by the Ceylon Government, including, besides the harbour works at Colombo, the construction of 560 miles of State railways, the public debt of the colony does not exceed £5,000,000, and under existing arrangements this will be entirely extinguished in the year 1948. The debt works out at about £1 8s. per head of population, as compared with £54 11s. in Australia, £68 10s. in New Zealand, and £13 11s. in Canada. The unexampled rise in revenue, with the constantly recurring surplus of receipts over expenditure, is doubtless due to the thrifty system of administration of the Ceylon Government, which bears favourable comparison with the speculative policy of the self-governing colonies, whose Governments are financially independent of Colonial Office control. The imports, approximating to £7,500,000 annually, are nearly balanced by the exports, the figures given to the writer showing that the trade of the colony has increased pari passu (nearly 100 per cent.) with the increase of revenue during the past fifteen years. What calls for special notice in regard to this increase is the rapid growth of Ceylon's foreign trade, which has increased about seven times as fast as the trade with the United Kingdom and sister colonies. As in England, so in Ceylon, this increase of foreign trade has taken place under the existing system of free imports, there being no Customs dues levied in Ceylon except for revenue purposes, and the general tariff
rate of duty not being higher than 5 per cent. ad valorem. Without going into further details, it may be said that an examination of available figures shows that the British producer has already been supplanted in regard to certain manufactured articles by foreigners, whose competition is being more and more severely felt every year. It is considered by most authorities on Ceylon trade that under a system of Imperial preference Ceylon would continue to find as open a market as at present in America and Europe for her increasing export trade in tea, cocoanut oil, and plumbago, while the bulk of the import trade would be retained by British producers. Ceylon at present exports to non-British countries about four times what she imports from the same sources.
It was a pleasure to visit Ceylon, and bear testimony as an eyewitness to the capacity of its Government and the commercial enterprise of both European and native populations. Ceylon is, perhaps, the most successful example yet produced of what is possible under a well-directed system of Crown Colony government. What strikes the visitor more than anything else is the contentment of the native population, now rapidly approaching 4,000,000, who are keenly alive to the benefits which they enjoy under the firm and sympathetic administration of their British rulers. In passing eastward, it is satisfactory to feel that British hold of this important colonial possession rests on the sure basis of increasing national prosperity; and it
therefore only remains to express the hope that the Crown Colony system, which with all its theoretical faults was brought to so high a state of administrative perfection under the sympathetic régime of Mr. Chamberlain, may never again be prejudiced by ill-timed attempts to interfere with the responsibility of the local Governor and his Executive and Legislative Councils.