Any scheme for reform has to decide once for all the proper authority that should have the exclusive right of coinage. As in no country has a bank the right of coinage, the question narrows itself to one of the rights and prerogatives of the central and provincial Governments. Much as it is desirable that centralization of administrative power should be achieved at as early a date as possible in China, care should be taken not to court failure as on many previous occasions. Centralization of all power is as detrimental to the public weal as the excessive decentralization, which has been the special feature of the Government in China for centuries. There are certain departments or branches that ought to be controlled by the central authority, and others that ought to be left to the provincial and local administrations. Mainly through foreign pressure and the tact of Sir Richard Dane, the Salt Administration is being gradually centralized. Now, even more than the Customs and salt, the right of coining money should be in the hands of the Central Government; luckily the interests involved in the change are much less than in case of Customs or salt. The several provincial mints are only later growths, and many of them are in a bad way. Moreover, the experience of the past has shown conclusively that a proper uniformity is not easily attainable when ten different mints in far distant places are all working at one and the same time. Even as early as four years after the establishment of the first four mints in China, it was found that there was a good deal of re-duplication of coinage, while they were as far from bringing about a thorough uniformity as possible. Money, currency and coinage never remain purely provincial problems; the issue of a large number of coins in one mint not only affects prices in that locality, but also disorganizes business and Government finance in other places. It may be argued, on the other hand, that the whole world is inter-connected by trade, and hence there should be a central coining authority. Such an argument is too far-fetched. The correct attitude to take, as a result of the proper understanding of the effects on coinage on economics, is that the control should be centralized in every state, which exists as a political entity. Or, conversely, no division of a state or kingdom should be allowed to have any sort of control over the coinage of the realm. Therefore, a proper regulation and control is possible only when the Central Government has the exclusive right of coinage.
There are also other factors, purely economic, favouring my proposal. There are a great number of items of expenses connected with coinage. As the main object or purpose of currency is to have fluid currency, the object would be defeated if the expenses were not brought down to a minimum. It goes without saying that one central mint could mint the coins necessary much more cheaply than a number of mints. Also, one central mint could distribute currency much more cheaply, and with due regard to the local conditions of demand and supply, throughout the country. Again the Central Government could control one mint with less difficulty than it could a number of mints. The initial cost of the necessary machinery, to cope with the full demands of the country, for one mint would be much less than for a number of mints. The present conditions are, however, different and there are already several mints; it may be argued that each is equipped with the latest machinery and hence the question of initial cost should be no part of the present consideration. But owing to the necessity for centralization and for various other reasons we must take it for granted that the present mints should go out of business; in other words, it would be cheaper to China, to let them go out of business than to make use of them.