(Last Updated on : 26-11-2010)
The Superintendent of Commerce, as mentioned in chapter XVI of Book II in Arthashastra
, shall ascertain demand or absence of demand for, and rise or fall in the price of various kinds of merchandise which may be the products either of land or of water, and which may have been brought in either by land or by water path. He shall also ascertain the time suitable for their distribution, centralisation, purchase and sale.
Superintendent of commerce verifies two levels of merchandise for a state. While the state earns a lot of source of income from the local merchandise and other forms of trade; the other source through which the state earns is through foreign investment. Arthashastra defines the work of the superintendent of commerce to centralise the local manufactures of the kingdom and fix the price accordingly which shall be sold to the people. Kautilya
advises the superintendent to avoid such vast levels of profit which may harm people. The state shall make no restrictions on the sale of the items which are of regular demand, nor will be subject to centralisation. As an amount of share the superintendent shall fix the rates on one- sixteenth of the quantity for the commodities sold on the cubical measures and one-twentieth of the quantity sold on weighing basis and one-eleventh of the whole commodities sold on the basis of numbers.
Superintendent of commerce is free and encouraged to show special care towards the foreign merchandise, mariners and merchants who import foreign materials as they will be provided with remission of taxes, as well as allowing them for some minimum level of profit. They shill further exempted from being sued for debts unless they enter into partnership. As regards the sale of the king's merchandise in foreign countries, Arthashastra mentions that having ascertained the value of local produce as compared with that of foreign produce that can be obtained in barter, the superintendent will find out (by calculation) whether there is any margin left for profit after meeting the payments (to the foreign king), such as, toll, road-cess, conveyance cess, tax payable at military stations, ferry charges, subsistence to the merchant and his followers ,and the portion of merchandise payable to the foreign king. If no profit can be realised by selling the local produce in foreign countries, he has to consider whether any local produce can be profitably bartered for any foreign produce. Then he may send one-quarter of his valuable merchandise through safe roads to different markets on land.
Thus, the Superintendent of Commerce will mainly concentrate on the collection of merchandise, their distribution, their import as well as the distribution of profit earned by the state. He may gather information regarding transaction in commercial towns through water ways and avoid the non profitable ones. Overall Superintendent of Commerce shall be responsible for keeping the records of profit which the state earns through trade and finance.