By Yiwola Awoyale, Lonely Planet Phrasebooks
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Additional info for Africa: Lonely Planet Phrasebook
Such an incentive was provided by a system of conditional grants given to colonies that needed ﬁnancial help. Britain would step in if help were needed, but only with speciﬁc conditions. The most important of these was that any colony accepting a grant-in-aid would be forced to submit its budget for that year to the British Treasury for auditing. Treasury control, as this was termed, gave Treasury oﬃcials line-item veto power over colonial budgets. This power was used to make reducing British subsidies the top priority in setting the budget.
In fact, very few African colonies managed to make their budgets balance before World War One. 1 shows the budget position of African colonies from 1885 until 1910. Though exceptional years created early surpluses in Nigeria, and colonies like Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast were earning steady surpluses by the end of the period, the general picture is one of ﬁnancial struggle across British colonial Africa. Persistent deﬁcits in the colonies during the ﬁrst years of colonialism reveal that, regardless of tough talk from the Treasury about colonial selfsuﬃciency, the British government did subsidize colonial administrations during their ﬁrst decades.
Cain and Hopkins, British Imperialism, p. 303. Hargreaves, West Africa Partitioned, Volume I, pp. 1–2. For more on the contribution of the colonies to British overseas trade, see O’Brien, ‘Colonies in a Globalizing Economy 1815–1948’. 20 London Chamber of Commerce West African Trade Section Minute Book, LMA CLC/B/150/MS16504. 21 Young, African Colonial State, pp. 103–5. 22 Galbraith, Crown and Charter, p. 107. 18 19 22 Building a Self-Suﬃcient Empire in Africa for the costs of governance. 24 A similar strategy was used to establish British rule over East Africa just two years later.