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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

Ill
LIMITATIONS OF BRITISH CONTROL
59
external and a considerable part of the internal trade of the country.
The only important sources of revenue which the Capitulations cannot affect are the land tax, Customs and Excise, to which the duty on imported tobacco contributes about one-third, and judicial and registration fees. The readjustment of the land tax, begun in 1899, was based on a settlement to last for thirty years, which precludes any increase tiU the expiry of that term, except possibly by way of super-tax on large holdings. The elastic sources of revenue derived in other countries from income tax, succession duties, duties on commercial transactions, etc., are closed against the Egyptian Treasury, because so long as the Capitulations are in force no new imposts of that nature can be levied upon foreigners without the consent of all the foreign Capitulation Powers, and as the Egyptian Government cannot be expected to differentiate against its own subjects by making them liable to heavy taxation from which the large foreign'communities remain exempt, it has to forgo important sources of revenue that are, so to say, staring it in the face.
Experience has shown how hopeless it is to obtain such unanimous consent in matters of first-rate importance, and even in small matters it involves almost interminable negotiations. A few years ago, when an improved system of drainage was introduced into Cairo and it was proposed to levy a small tax on all house-owners who benefited by it, the Portuguese Government, with barely a dozen Portuguese house-owners in Cairo, held up for six months an agreement arrived at for the purpose with all the other Powers, and only gave its consent in return for a promise from the British Government to settle in favour of Portugal some quite irrelevant colonial question in South Africa.
The second restraint placed upon Egypt under the Capitulations means the maintenance of tribunals which do not derive their authority from the Egyptian State,itrary power of Oriental despots, and the life and property of the