| TE WANANGA.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1876.
THE indebtedness of New Zealand is a matter which comes home to each man, woman, and child, of this Colony. We do not think that our public men are far behind any in the use of figures, nor are their minds less able to grasp any matter in regard to finance when brought before them, yet we have for years past seen it stated, again and again in print, that there is not any man in New Zealand who understands the position of our National debt in New Zealand. We quote the following from the " Coromandel Mail" : "Sir George Grey we are given to understand, has of- fered to pay an accountant, the sum of one hundred guineas if he will explain in an intelligible manner what is the actual indebtedness of the Colony as shown or other- [ wise not shown by the statement of the Acting Colonial Treasurer in his Budget speech in the session of last Par- liament. It appears that Ministers are not agreed among themselves as to what the Colony does owe. Ministers differ to the extent of nearly four millions of money. It would appear there is not a penny of money in hand for a sinking fund to meet our indebtedness. It is true there is what is called a sinking fund ; but it is only in name, as the money paid to its credits is withdrawn and debentures papers made to take its place. That is to say the whole sinking fund is borrowed by Ministers upon the security of their own debentures at par, and which it is believed could not be realised now tinder a very heavy sacrifice. However, it is quite certain that no one at present knows what the Colony does owe, and the people must feel in- debted to Sir George Grey that he has, out of his own pocket, offered to re-imburse an accountant to investigate our financial position from the state papers and documents laid before members in the House during last session."
We have not heard that the offer therein made has been claimed, and we also see that an hon- orable member in the present Parliament has, to some extent, made the matter slightly clear, at the same time he does not compliment the present Government in the matter. He states :
" I would also draw attention to this point: When the Immigration and Public Works policy was brought for- ward six years ago, the estimated population of New Zea- land was 250,000. It has since increased to 375,000. And what was the indebtedness of the Colony at those two periods? Six years ago it was £7,500,000 : to-day it is £19,500,000! In other words, it appears that, whilst the population has increased 50 per cent, our indebtedness has increased nearly threefold. Now that, I think, is an important circumstance, and one that should not be left out of view. We have gone on adding to our debt at the rate of £2,000,000 a year, and really, when we look at the Public Works Statement, there does not appear to be much to «how for it. Where the money has gone I do not pre- tend to know : but all that has been spent on railways, roads, and water-races, is a little over £6,000,000just about half the amount we have raised during the six years. Without a doubt, the present is a very critical time, financially speaking. We have already been informed that £1,550,000 of our debentures had been hypothecated. It is almost distressing to read the Financial Statement upon this point, especially when we read it ia connection