Page:EB1911 - Volume 06.djvu/165

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
152
[FINANCE
CHILE

Valdivia; and for females at La Serena, Santiago and Concepción. The mining schools at Copiapó, La Serena and Santiago had an aggregate attendance of 180 students in 1903, and the commercial schools at Iquique and Santiago an attendance of 214. The more important agricultural schools are located at Santiago, Chillán, Concepción and Ancud, the Quinta Normal de Agricultura in the national capital having a large attendance. The School of Mechanic Arts and Trades (Escuela de Artes y Oficios) of Santiago has a high reputation for the practical character of its instruction, in which it is admirably seconded by a normal handicraft school (Slöyd system) and a night school of industrial drawing in the same city, and professional schools for girls in Santiago and Valparaiso, where the pupils are taught millinery, dress-making, knitting, embroidery and fancy needlework. The government also maintains schools for the blind and for the deaf and dumb. The public primary schools numbered 1961 in 1903, with 3608 teachers, 166,928 pupils enrolled, and an average attendance of 108,582. The cost of maintaining these schools was 4,146,574 pesos, or an average of £2:17:3 per pupil in attendance. In addition to the public schools there are a Roman Catholic university at Santiago, which includes law and civil engineering among its regular courses of study; numerous private schools and seminaries of the secondary grade, with a total of 11,184 students of both sexes in 1903; and 506 private primary schools, with an attendance of 29,684. The private schools usually conform to the official requirements in regard to studies and examinations, which facilitates subsequent admission to the university and the obtainment of degrees; probably they do better work than the public schools, especially in the German settlements of the southern provinces. A Consejo de Instrucción Pública (council of public instruction) of 14 members exercises a general supervision over the higher and secondary schools. There are schools of music and fine arts in Santiago. The national library at Santiago, with 116,300 volumes in 1906, and the national observatory, are both efficiently administered. At the beginning of the 20th century there were 41 public libraries in the republic, including public school collections, with an aggregate of 240,000 volumes.

Charities.—According to the returns of 1903 there were 88 hospitals in the republic, which reported 79,051 admissions during the year, and had 6215 patients under treatment at its close; 628,536 patients received gratuitous medical assistance at the public dispensaries during the year; there were 24 foundling hospitals with 5570 children; and there were 3092 persons in the various hospicios or asylums, and 1478 in the imbecile asylums.

Religion.—The Roman Catholic religion is declared by the constitution to be the religion of the state, and the inaugural oath of the president pledges him to protect it. A considerable part of its income is derived from a subsidy included in the annual budget, which makes it a charge upon the national treasury like any other public service. The secular supervision of this service is entrusted to a member of the president’s cabinet, known as the minister of worship and colonization. The executive and legislative powers intervene in the appointments to the higher offices of the Church. The greater part of the population remains loyal to the established faith. The law of 1865 gives the privilege of religious worship to other faiths, and the laws of 1883 made civil marriage and the civil registry of births, deaths and marriages obligatory, and secularized the cemeteries. Under the reform of 1865 full religious freedom is practically accorded, and it is provided that the services of religious organizations other than the Roman Catholic may be held in private residences or in edifices owned by private individuals or corporations. Of the 72,812 foreigners residing in Chile in 1895, about 16,000 were described as Protestants. Notwithstanding the opposition of some political elements to the Church, the Chileans themselves may all be classed as Roman Catholics. The ecclesiastical organization includes one archbishop, who resides at Santiago, three bishops residing at La Serena, Concepción and Ancud, and two vicars residing in Antofagasta and Tarapacá. These benefices are filled by appointments from lists of three prepared by the council of state and sent to Rome by the president, and in the case of an archbishop or bishop the appointment must also receive the approval of the Senate. The Chilean clergy are drawn very largely from the higher classes, and their social standing is much better than in many South American states. The Church also possesses much property of its own, and is therefore able to maintain itself on a comparatively small subsidy from the public treasury, which was 985,910 pesos (£73,943) in 1902. The Church maintains seminaries in all cathedral towns, and these also receive a subsidy from the government.

Finance.—For a long time Chile was considered one of the poorest states of Spanish America, but the acquisition of the rich mineral-producing provinces of the north, together with the development of new silver and copper mines in Atacama and Coquimbo, largely increased her revenues and enabled her to develop other important resources. During the decade 1831–1840 the annual revenues averaged about 2,100,000 pesos (of 48d.), which in the decade 1861–1870 had increased to an average of only 8,200,000 pesos—and this during a period of considerable agricultural activity on account of wheat exports to California and Australia. After 1870 the revenues increased more rapidly owing to the development of new mining industries, the receipts in 1879 amounting to 15,300,000 pesos, and in 1882 to 28,900,000 pesos. The revenues from the captured Peruvian nitrate fields then became an important part of the national income, which ten years later (1902) reached an aggregate of 138,507,178 pesos (of 18d.), of which 105,072,832 pesos were in gold. In 1906 the receipts from all sources were estimated at 149,100,000 pesos, of which 62,200,000 pesos gold were credited to the tax on nitrate, 39,800,000 pesos gold to import duties, and 23,500,000 pesos currency to railway receipts. During these years of fiscal prosperity the country suffered much from financial crises caused by industrial stagnation, an excessive and depreciated paper currency and political disorder. To ensure an income that would meet its foreign engagements, the government collected the nitrate and iodine taxes and import duties in gold. As a considerable part of the expenditures were in gold, the practice was adopted of keeping the gold and currency accounts separate. In 1895 a conversion law was passed in which the sterling value of the peso was reduced to 18d., at which rate the outstanding paper should be redeemed. A conversion fund was also created, and, although the government afterwards authorized two more large issues, the beneficial effects of this law were so pronounced that the customs regulations were modified in 1907 to permit the payment of import duties in paper. The national revenue is derived chiefly from the nitrate taxes, customs duties, alcohol tax, and from railway, postal and telegraph receipts. There is no land tax, and licence or business taxes are levied by the municipalities for local purposes. The national expenditures are chiefly for the interest and amortization charges on the public debt, official salaries, military expenses in connexion with the army and navy, public works (including railway construction, port improvements, water and sewage works), the administration of the state railways, telegraph lines and post office, church subsidies, public instruction and foreign representation.

The ordinary and extraordinary receipts and expenditures for the five years 1899–1903, in gold and currency, in pesos of 18d., were as follows:—

  Receipts, pesos. Expenditures, pesos.
Gold. Paper. Gold. Paper.
1899 83,051,604 45,239.970 31,732,797 76,749,793
1900 89,869,178 46,515,102 30,564,821 82,143,742
1901 74,665,061 35,394,434 39,808,517 91,087,171
1902 105,072,832 33,434,346 45,093,278[1] 89,170,087[1]
1903 108,503,565 32,490,145 12,508,075 84,721,437

For 1906 the expenditures were fixed at 149,000,000 pesos, and the revenues were estimated to produce 149,100,000 pesos, which included 62,200,000 pesos gold from nitrate taxes, 39,800,000 pesos gold and 200,000 pesos paper from import duties, 23,500,000 pesos paper from the state railways, 2,500,000 pesos paper from postal and telegraph receipts, and 15,000,000 pesos gold from loans. How the revenues are expended is shown in the estimates for 1907, in which the total expenditures were estimated at 134,830,532 pesos paper and 58,796,780 pesos gold, the principal appropriations being 16,192,780 pesos paper and 99,733 gold for the war department, 10,460.781 paper and 6,315,731 gold for the marine department, 40,934,273 paper and 16,984,671 gold for railways, and 6,324,817 paper for public works. In addition to these the budget of 1906 provided for gold expenditures in 1907 of 7,000,000 pesos on sanitary works and 8,000,000 pesos on the Arica-La Paz railway. The custom of dividing receipts and expenditures into ordinary and extraordinary, of treating the receipts from loans as revenue, of adding six months to the fiscal year for closing up accounts, and of dividing receipts and expenditures into separate gold and currency accounts, leads to much confusion and complication in the returns, and is the cause of unavoidable discrepancies and contradictions.

In May 1906 the external debt of the republic aggregated £21,700,000, including the loans of 1905 and 1906, amounting to £5,700.000, for sanitary works and railway construction. At the same time the internal debt was 107,000,000 pesos (£8,025,000), which increases the funded indebtedness to £29,725,000. Like Brazil, Chile has been careful to preserve her foreign credit, and though an average indebtedness of about £10 per capita may seem large for a nation with so much absolute poverty among its people, the government is finding no difficulty in negotiating new loans, the mineral resources of the country and the conservative instincts of the people being considered satisfactory guarantees. According to official returns, the real-estate valuations in 1903–1904 aggregated 1,777,217,704 pesos, of which 1,020,609,215 pesos were in urban and 754,608,489 pesos in rural property. Of the total returned, 1,775,217,704 is described as taxable, and 262,626,576 pesos as non-taxable. The large and steadily increasing receipts from import duties, amounting to 91,321,860 pesos in 1905, and 103,507,556 pesos in 1906, appears to indicate an encouraging state of prosperity in the country, although an average of 34½ pesos a year (nearly £2: 12s.), in addition to the increased prices paid for home manufactures, seems to be a very heavy indirect tax upon so poor a people.

Currency.—The monetary circulation in Chile consists almost wholly of paper currency, nominally based on a gold standard of

  1. 1.0 1.1 The expenditures of 1902 are also given as 25,882,702 pesos gold, and 108,844,693 pesos currency.