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File XXXII/12 '1. Finances. 2. Customs Duties (Sur). 3. Financial Crisis, 1931. 4. Treaties with France and America' [‎65r] (134/266)

The record is made up of 1 file (129 folios). It was created in 18 Dec 1928-31 Dec 1930. It was written in English and Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.

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m
5
V. Mr. G. Nott Bower (Imperial Customs Service) sent to Muscat on
deputation from the Government of India in March of 1925 for the pur
pose of examining the State’s Customs Department, addressed himself in
his report to the question of the revision of the State’s 5 per cent, ad
valorem duties. He therein expressed three alternative views.
(i) Against an increase (a) on the hypothesis that “ it is possible
that imports would show a falling off to such an extent that
no extra duty would be realised ”, (h) on political grounds.
(n) An increase of per cent, to per cent, {plus alcohol and
cigarettes tax of 15 per cent.).
{Hi) An increase of 2J per cent, to 71 per cent, {plus alcohol and
cigarettes tax of 15 per cent.).
As regards (»), Mr. Bower’s apprehensions of such a considerable
falling off in the value of imports would appear to be unduly pessimistic
in the light of a slightly increased tax.
As regards his alternatives (u) and (m), i.e., of revision either to a
6} per cent, or 71 per cent, tariff, the former would cause more trouble
than it is worth. Any increase will meet with some opposition on principle.
To incur opposition for inadequate results is not worth while : and it is
only the yield from the 71 per cent, duties which may achieve, even
partially, the desired ends. The result of a 71 per cent, duty would I
anticipate increase the revenue by one lakh and a quarter of rupees.
Mr. Bower’s more liberal estimate would appear to have been based on
total ‘ customs ’ receipts. In arriving at my figure I have taken into
consideration two factors representing together nearly a half of the total
volume of taxable trade—
{i) Gwadur.
(it) Interior exports.
As regards (i) I have disregarded Gwadur as perhaps its present
tariff had most profitably be left unaltered. Gwadur is already virtually
a 71 per cent, port (State duties of 5 per cent, plus Makran duties of 21
per cent, on its borders) against other Makran ports having 4 per cent,
duties, and in view of its size and position a further increase may divert
its trade. A small Indian trading ship in 1927 had only to anchor and land
its cargoes a few miles up or down the coast to circumvent our customs
authorties there, and an application of the increased duty is calculated to
encourage similar activities having for their result ends precisely opposite
to those desired.
As regards (it) the 5 per cent, duties on dates and other produce from
Interior Oman, whose yield for purposes of administrative convenience
has always been brought to account as customs revenues, are not customs
duties in reality, and would not be liable to the increased tax. The present
tax (there is no wharfage as for legitimate customs transactions) is in
reality in lieu of zakat and the Treaty of 1920 between the Sultan and the
Interior Sheikhs (see page 104 in S. K, March 1921, Nos. 55—194) follow
ing Sheikh ’Isa bin Saleh lays down that this 5 per cent, shall not be ex
ceeded. I have therefore excluded export figures, customarily lumped
together as customs revenues, from my calculations. The figures which
provide the basis of incidence for the 74 per cent, tax are the actual Imports
along Oman Sultanate shores from overseas. The proposed additional 24
per cent, customs duty represents a yield to the Exchequer of 1|40 of the
value of such imports. The total value of overseas imports (excluding
Gwadur) for 1926-27 was Rs. 49,03.010 and for 1927-28 Rs. 55 57,149
which would thus have yielded on the basis indicated, an additional
revenue of Rs. 1,22,575 and Rs. 1,38.928 in those respective years. The
proposal of a 74 per cent, customs dutv is calculated therefore directly to
increase State revenues by about 1} lakhs annually.
Lc99FD

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Content

This file contains correspondence between British officials (primarily at the Political Agency An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. in Muscat, the Political Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. in Bushire and the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. in London) concerning economic problems in the Sultanate of Muscat and the consequent need to raise its customs tariffs in order to increase state revenue. Much of the correspondence relates to potential issues that this proposed increase could cause with the United States of America and France due to treaties those two countries previously agreed with the Sultan of Muscat.

In addition to internal correspondence between British officials, the file also contains a limited amount of correspondence with US and French diplomats and one letter in Arabic (with English translation) from the Sultan of Muscat, Taymūr bin Fayṣal bin Turkī Āl Bū Sa‘īd(folios 52-53).

In addition to correspondence, the file contains the following documents:

  • 'Note on the Financial Aspect of Our Policy [in Muscat]' 1928 (folios 5-6)
  • 'List of the monthly allowances paid by the Muscat Govt. to the Frontier Shaikhs. 1927' (folio 48)
  • Draft revised treaty between the United States of America and the Sultan of Muscat (folios 120-121).
Extent and format
1 file (129 folios)
Arrangement

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the front to the rear of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 131; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is present in parallel between ff 5-128; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled.A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

Written in
English and Arabic in Latin and Arabic script
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File XXXII/12 '1. Finances. 2. Customs Duties (Sur). 3. Financial Crisis, 1931. 4. Treaties with France and America' [‎65r] (134/266), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/6/49, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100063310110.0x000087> [accessed 25 August 2019]

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