Chapter 221 Territory Conference
When I was responding to the official with an exasperated smile on my face, there was a knock on the door. Moneda walked in.
His expression seemed unusually upset.
…I probably looked quite similar.
If I was being perfectly honest, I would prefer not to meet with him now.
More accurately, I didn’t want to have to have the conversation we were about to have.
It was the same emotion I felt when I was a student, when each exam was enough to make me want to stay home.
…Even so, I’m no longer at the age or position where I can avoid things because I dislike them.
All I can do now is share in his concern.
“…Shall I leave?”
I shook my head at the official’s question. He should stay to listen to what we had to discuss.
“It’s been a long time, milady.”
“It really has.”
Hahaha…both of us let out a dry laugh.
“We’ve heard about the first prince’s victory. That means the royal family will no longer trouble us, which is quite worthy of celebration.”
“Indeed. The information you were able to find for me was a great help. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give you proper thanks this whole time…Thank you so much, Moneda.”
“No, it’s nothing worth thanking me over. I just used my connections from back in the…”
He shuddered suddenly.
“It’s unlike you to reminisce about the past. Time is money, correct?”
When I said that, his gaze changed. There was some kind of awakening within.
His aura–even though he shouldered a burden as heavy as a mountain, he still moved forward with determination.
“I’m here to discuss plans for the future.”
“That’s what I thought…perfect timing.”
When we were exchanging these words, the other officials from the civil affairs department who had been alerted walked into the room.
“If everyone else has arrived, let’s hold a conference in the neighboring room.”
After everyone sat down, we each received and glanced over a report from the agriculture department.
“This is our current food storage and the estimation for this upcoming season’s harvest.”
The storage had increased quite significantly.
But that was compared to the false numbers we’d fed to the central government.
Even so, this was building upon the foundation of what we’d used to help immigrants, so we would most likely only go up from here.
It was still worthwhile to designate a few portions to purchase grain from other countries.
…If nothing goes wrong in the near future, we should be able to recover our original numbers by the next harvest.
Yes, if nothing goes wrong.
Ah, how my head hurt.
“…Looks like we’ll have quite the output by the next harvest season.”
Judging solely by the numbers on the report, we’ve doubled our production.
“The academy’s research has borne fruit. Starting from the newest crop, we’re increasing efficient usage per acre and further rationalizing our current crops. This is a product of everyone’s hard work. As long as we don’t encounter any major natural disasters, I don’t see too much change occurring in terms of our final output.”
“The construction department has reported recently that our dam project has been effectively completed. The most important parts are done, and all that remains are small repairs…at the moment, it’s already fully functioning. As long as we don’t encounter the flood of a century, natural disasters won’t be able to deal us any real damage.”
I sighed a breath of relief.
“Earlier than expected, huh? Even though it’s a project that has been talked about since my grandfather’s generation, we tried tweaking many of the specifics in construction.”
“Yes. One of the other major reasons, however, is that our citizens have been incredibly active in assisting us.”
“Is that so…”
We had taken the time before construction commenced to spread the word to our people. It seemed like the hard work had paid off now in the best way possible.
“Why is something like that necessary? And why must we proceed with these policies?”
It seemed like knowing the meaning behind all those things did indeed produce a very different result in its audience.
“How have the waterway and reservoir construction been going?”
“They’re about halfway done. Although the reservoir is already functional, the waterway isn’t fully built yet. Now that the dam is complete, we’ll be able to move some personnel toward the waterway construction to speed that up.”
“Based on the construction representative’s comments, I think we’re already quite well-prepared against natural disasters and should be prepared to continue supplying food to refugees who need it at the moment…what do you think?”
I didn’t answer him immediately, instead organizing my thoughts in silence.
Our situation now, and everything we were going to do in the future.
“Apologies, I know you just reported on this but I just wanted to confirm with you again. About 80% of the immigrants have already received a job assignment, and food has also been distributed…is that correct?”
The representatives from civil affairs and the construction department both nodded in response.
Hearing what I said, all the other officials seemed somewhat surprised. Their eyes went wide.
With our current estimations of population movement and harvest, we’ll be able to continue providing our people with food.
–The prerequisite to all this being that nothing goes wrong.
As if realizing the hidden meaning in my words–everyone’s expressions were oddly restrained as they waited for me to speak again.
“Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet…war has begun.”
Other than Moneda, everyone else present held their breath.
I’d already sent messengers ahead of me when departing from the capital to inform him. That and the sheer amount of information he already had in hand meant he already understood the situation enough to keep his calm…That being said, he still looked incredibly unwell.
Not that I couldn’t sympathize with him.
“A…war with the Towair Kingdom, is that right?”
One of the officials finally asked.
His tone seemed less questioning than confirming something he already knew.
I nodded. Everyone’s mouth opened, like they were going to say something…but no one managed to make a sound.
Right now, their minds must be full of curses.
Judging from their expressions, it was 90% anger and 10% relief.
As Tasmerian citizens, they were outraged at the Towair Kingdom’s second invasion. As officials, they were enraged by the fact that they would be once again embroiled in trouble and work.
The only point of relief was that the Towair Kingdom was ever so distant from our territory.
“On that basis…let’s discuss our plans for the future.”
A curtain of silence seemed to fall upon the whole room.
“Moneda, any news about the merchants’ guild?”
“Nothing as far as I can tell. The market seems quite steady.”
“Good. From now on we need to keep an eye out for anyone attempting to monopolize on food or medicine.”
“…Should we continue the ‘Profiteering Supervision Order’?” The official from the legal department asked.
The “Profiteering Supervision Order” was a set of punishments and regulations set forth to prevent merchants from monopolizing or purposefully limiting production of certain products for financial gain.
It was a set of rules modeled after the ones resulting from the Japanese Rice Riots…I believe.
Although I only had a rough understanding of history and didn’t know the specific ins-and-outs of those laws, I understood that the Armenian laws aimed to achieve the same result.
It was designed to handle massive demand relative to supply during periods of natural disaster.
Under circumstances like that, monopolizing or limiting supply of certain products could artificially inflate their prices.
Unfortunately, certain individuals were willing to use methods like this to obtain massive wealth.
This upcoming war would be no different.
The country needed to guarantee food for the soldiers on the battlefront. If the farmlands supplying that food were embroiled in war, then total production would drop.
Anyone could see that even if a single territory were able to achieve balance, the whole country’s equilibrium would be incredibly difficult to maintain.
…Purchasing in-demand products like that in territories where the price is cheaper and selling them in other territories with low supply and high demand was enough to make a profit.
Although those who bought and sold freely on the market would of course have inclinations to do so…I was the ruler of this territory. Any drain on our food resources was something that needed to be avoided at all costs.
At the end of the day, I didn’t know if the citizens who caught wind of war might or might not be tempted to run around purchasing food to build up their storage.
“…Yes, of course. Also, we’ll maintain tariffs at their current special rate.”
To prevent our food from flowing into other territories, our current tariffs on many individual products were high for exportation. Imports, however, still had no tariffs on them.
“Still on the same products?”
“Yes. Overall, we only need it for food, medicine, and other similar products. Afterwards I’ll confirm a final list with the financial and the agriculture departments. After that’s settled, we just need to obtain the necessary paperwork…Moneda, what’s the price like on these products at the moment?”
“There’s been some inflation, but no change in the overall consumption. So the value of each product is going up.”
“And this after we’ve adjusted and confirmed the specifics of trade. It seems like everyone realizes that the future will be full of uncertainty.”
“If we’re aiming to drop the prices, the best way is to increase the supply…or decrease the amount of currency in the system to increase currency value.”
“Please let me speak on behalf of the financial department. Drawing food from other countries will take time. If there are any more large expenditures like this, we won’t be able to finish other important tasks.”
Hearing the voice of reason from the financial representative, me and Moneda both grimaced.
“It’s difficult for me to say because I’m not an expert, but in the past there’s been precedent of the country borrowing from its people. Could that happen again? If we purchased resources then we’d be able to increase our storage, and if we could accumulate finances then that would successfully reduce the flow of currency in the economy.”
The agricultural representative proposed a replacement plan, but I couldn’t agree to it.
“Ah…you’re talking about bonds. I can’t say yes to that so easily. Under the current gold standard system, there’s a limited amount of bonds we can issue.”
Right now we had paper currency and gold currency vouchers…vouchers that were to be exchanged with actual gold coins.
At the end of the day, the amount of golden coins we had in storage was limiting how much currency we could issue.
In other words…even if we didn’t have enough money in the system, we couldn’t keep printing money.
Hm…whether it was gold standard or currency standard, distributing bonds recklessly could only be a bad thing.
“Second, we don’t know if we’ll be able to pay off the promise of those bonds in the future. Right now there’s signs of inflation. To suppress this we’ll have to raise interest rates. Third, maintaining an efficient financial system means having a solid financial foundation. At the end of the day, bonds are just IOUs. We have a duty to give people returns on them. If we don’t have enough income or proper financial discipline, our debt will only snowball. The above reasons are why I can’t agree to issuing bonds.”
“It’s a method more akin to a violent medicine. Considering our current situation, I don’t think it’s necessary…what does everyone else think?”
“There’s still a possibility that our territory will be caught up in battle. I think we always need to make sure we can keep our savings safe.”
“This adjustment is the financial department’s duty, correct? Instead of waiting for new funds, we should be cutting costs in other places in order to prepare for war.”
“I’m worried about how the people might act. Public unease might lead to unexpected actions, and there’s an increased possibility that people will be in a frenzy to buy out food.”
“I think the legal department’s response to those issues should be reasonable.”
Everyone kept chatting like this…each department raised different opinions and exchanged thoughts.
With my own power, I wouldn’t be able to handle all of this.
From that point onwards everyone kept discussing through day and night. A heated continuing conference tired all of us out, but in the end we came up with a plan for our future direction.