Public finances under private company rule: The Dutch Cape Colony (1652–1795).
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This paper provides an overview of the public finances of the Cape Colony in the period during which it was governed by the Dutch East India Company (1652–1795). Using information from secondary sources, the paper discusses the expenditures and revenue sources of the Company at the Cape; in addition, it reports findings on the composition and distribution of the tax burden derived from an analysis of the “opgaafrolle” (the annual censuses that were undertaken to determine tax obligations). It shows that the Company’s expenses exceeded its revenues throughout the period under review and that the tax system was broadly progressive. While the Dutch East India Company invested little in the economic development of the Cape Colony, it did not use the fiscal system to extract as much surplus as possible.