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1. Salt monopoly.... ---- ---- ---- ---- 40,000
Comparing this estimate with those already quoted which were furnished by Consul White and by Herr Von Löher, and which are both calculated in piastres, we find that Consul Lang's total is far the highest, for taking the Turkish lira to be equivalent to 188, and to contain 160 piastres (the present current rate), Consul White's estimate is but £121,000, and Herr Von Löher's amounts only to £94,000. To account for this difference, probably the current rate has altered considerably, or the Turkish lira was in these calculations valued at the bank rate.
Often the taxes are farmed out for certain sums, and then the tax gatherer tries to make as much profit as he possibly can upon the transaction, to the great disadvantage of the payers of the taxes.
At other times the government has tried to collect the taxes by means of its own officials, but these have generally been found unequal to the task, and then vacillation and cross-purposes have ensued, and nearly every year has produced alterations in the system of taxation.
Non-officially we hear that the tithe tax has of late years produced the following sums:–
In 1872 .... .... 7,220,023 piastres (most of the taxes farmed out).
,, 1877 .... 1,234,595 , , (crops slightly better, the tax was collected
in kind, and most of the wheat and barley not required for government purposes on the island was shipped to Syria and other parts of the Empire, wheat at 80 piastres, and barley at 40 piastres per kilo).
The last return was not such as to encourage a maintenance of the system of exportation of the tax collected in kind.
The tithe tax for 1878 has been estimated at 8,376,400 piastres, the Famagusta and Nicosia districts, which comprise the graingrowing plain of the Messaria, contributing together about threequarters of this total.
According to all accounts the taxation of the inhabitants of Cyprus has, under Turkish administration been carried out in a most severe and oppressive manner, and the imposts upon certain articles of agriculture and commerce have been so heavy, that their culture and export has in some cases been almost abandoned; yet it is said that the resources of the island are entirely undeveloped, and that under an able and generous government the revenues might be very materially increased by an equitable adjustment of the taxes, which would then give higher returns, whilst the pressure upon individuals would be lessened. It behoves us therefore to pass in review some of the items of taxation which form the revenue, and with regard to which amendments have been suggested. The cultivation of vines for the manufacture of wine has been so heavily and unjustly taxed, that a great part of the vineyards have of late years been turned to other and more profitable purposes, or else have been abandoned, and consequently a branch of agriculture for which the island is especially suited, and a remunerative article of commerce, is neglected and allowed to decline. An extensive development of vineyards and manufacture of wine should be encouraged, and with this object it has been suggested that it might be wise to free this production from all except export duty. Tobacco is undoubtedly a valuable culture, and might be made of great profit to the State, but, according to the consular reports quoted in Chapter VIII., the mistaken fiscal policy of the authorities in raising the tax upon this article, until at last it reached the exorbitant sum of six piastres per oke upon the most inferior qualities, has caused the production to fall below a tenth part of the consumption of the island, whereas not many years ago more than a sufficiency for the wants of the population was own. To restore this culture to its former importance will doubtless be the care of the new government, and an alteration in the present burdensome tax will probably be the easiest solution of the difficulty. Allusion has already been made to the injurious effect of the collection of the tithe upon cotton at the time when the crop is gathered, instead of at the time of shipment, and it has been explained how the former method prevents the farmers from growing the best and most remunerative varieties of the plant; this is a matter which requires the attention of the authorities when the re-adjustment of the taxes is considered. The salt fields of the island can, under judicious management, be made infinitely more valuable, and the preceding chapters indicate other methods in which the resources of Cyprus may be developed, so that while some taxes might with advantage be either lowered or remitted, the gain which will, accrue from a wise and enlightened administration, will, even in a pecuniary sense, infinitely exceed the possible diminutions of certain items of the revenue. An alteration will, for instance, have to be made in the indemnity paid by the Christian population for exemption from military service, for as under the present rule, both Christians and Mussulmans will be exempted from service, the tax must either be extended to the Mussulmans, or else abolished. The “Verghi" is the personal tax levied upon all householders and bread-winners in the island. Each village has to contribute a fixed amount, according to the number of its tax-payers, and the villagers as a whole are responsible for the sum, but the notables of the village apportion the quantum of the tax to each man as they consider just, and, as may be imagined, absolute justice is not always meted out; the Mohamedan proprietors are especially dealt with easily, but with more accurate statistics regarding the property of each taxpayer, the burden might be more equitably adjusted. It is believed that there are now 59,461 males in the island who pay taxes. The revenue upon stamps and the transfer fees will be certain to * with the commercial facilities and general prosperity of the island. M. Capitaine in an article in “L’Exploration du Globe” of July, 1878, gives an estimate of the cost of the Turkish government, and the expenses incurred in the adminstration of the island as
Salary of Governor General .... ---- ---- 1,520
British administration will certainly be more costly than that of the Turkish Government, but it appears equally certain that there will be an enlarged income. The estimates that have been quoted show that the present revenue amounts to about £180,000, and that a large proportion of this is derived from the salt lakes, a property belonging exclusively to government, and which does not inflict any burden upon the inhabitants. On the whole there seems to be much cause for satisfaction as regards the prospect of pecuniary profit to be derived from Cyprus, in addition to the political and strategic advantages which result from its possession by Great Britain.
From Consul White's Report for 1863:—
“New regulations concerning the currency came into operation in August 1863. The English sovereign which was current at 154 piastres was then reduced to 116. Opposition was raised by some of the merchants to this eat and sudden reduction, but the authorities succeeded in enforcing it. #. and other causes, however, prevented the price of labour and provisions being lowered in the same proportion as the coin, and the high price of provisions, especially of butchers' meat was felt by the poorer classes. “The rates of exchange upon England during 1863 varied from January to August between 148 and 151}, piastres, old currency; from September to December it varied between 108} and 105? piastres, new currency.
From Consul Riddell's Report for 1873:—
“During the year 1873 the current value of money in Cyprus greatly increased, owing mainly to a large importation of copper money. The Imperial Ottoman Bank Agency here maintains a fixed rate of currency, the £ sterling being 114 piastres, and but for the check which this establishment exercises upon the currency it is impossible to guess to what abusive rates the coins in circulation might attain. At the beginning of the year, gold coins circulated in commerce at an agio of only 1 per cent. to 2 per cent, on the bank rates, whilst the Beshlik (or base) currency was at par. At the close of the year the difference had risen to nearly 20 per cent—the pound sterling circulating at 130–134 piastres. “The depreciation in the value of landed and other real property which arises when transactions are conducted in piastres is very obvious. “For a time (but only for a time) the change operates in favour of exporters who effect the purchase of produce in piastres with the pound sterling at 130 piastres, in lieu of 114 piastres ; but is manifestly against, the importer who must also sell in piastres and be paid at the same rate, whilst he has to remit the cost of his goods in sterling value—in other terms, the rate of exchange which at the fo, of the year was about 114 piastres per £ sterling is now at 130 piastres, without anything nearly approximative in the currency price of the imported articles. Apply this to debts and obligations due in piastres and entered into long previously, but which must now be liquidated at current rates, and the ruinous consequences to the creditor become easily
In 1874 the “ruinous state' of the currency in the island is again alluded to in the Consular Report, and so far from having ameliorated, it is described as having continued to go from bad to worse, apparently without check or hindrance. The pound sterlin which a year previously was current at 130 piastres, j freely throughout the island during 1874 at 150 piastres.
From Consul Pierides' Report for 1876 —
writing in January 1877, Consul Pierides mentions that “gold was scarce at that time, and the English sovereign was circulating at 157 piastres, and the Turkish lira at 145 piastres. It was expected that the forthcoming issue of caimé, or paper money, would still further raise the prices of coins in good alloy to the manifest prejudice of commerce, and would also give rise to many disputes in the settlement of old debts.”
The last information concerning the currency previous to the British occupation was as follows:—
One Pound Sterling was equal to 114 piastres at bank rate, and 175 at current rate.
One Napoleon was equal to 91 piastres at bank rate and 140 at current rate.
One Turkish lira was equal to 104 piastres at bank rate and 160 at current rate.
Banks and banking operations have hitherto been almost unknown in Cyprus, and cheques are never seen. It has now been reported that several banking agencies are in course of establishment. Coinage. 40 paras = 1 piastre. 100 piastres = 1 Turkish lira.
The copper coins are 5, 10, and 20 paras. The silver coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 piastres. The 20-piastres piece is called the silver medjidie. The gold coins are 25, 50, and 100 piastres. The Turkish lira, or pound, is equivalent to about 18s. 2d., and the silver medjidie is equivalent to about 3s. 7d. It must be remembered that although the lira really contains only 100 piastres, the current rate is now 160 piastres to the lira, and it is according to this rate that calculations should be made.
Weights and Measures.
Weights. loke = 400 drams = 24 lbs. av. English.
Liquids are generally sold by weight as above, but there is a measure for wine called the Cuse.
- 1 cuse = 8 okes, = 3} gallons.
Measures for The measure called the killo is equivalent to about 55 lbs. weight. grain. 1 bushel of Cyprus wheat = 56 to 58 lbs. 1 bushel of Cyprus barley = 43 to 45 lbs.
Long measure. The arshin = 28 English inches, is used for silk, broadcloth, &c.
The endaze = 26 English inches, is used for carpets, linens, &c. Square The usual. measure for land is the scala, or skali, which is about measure. 60 paces square.
Food The prices of household necessaries have considerably increased
since the British occupation, and they have probably not yet