Through much of the last four decades of Dutch rule in Indonesia (1900-1941) the question of “native welfare” increasingly concerned colonial administrators and scholars. In her speech in 1901, Queen Wilhemina drew attention to the declining state of native welfare in Java, thus ushering in the so-called period of ethical policies. One aspect of the problem of declining welfare among the indigenous population both in Java and elsewhere which became the subject of government investigation was the burden of taxation. Writing in 1901, P. Brooshooft drew attention to the fact that “the present [colonial] budgets are always closed with a deficit…and the most pressing needs cannotbe filled; the capacity of the people to pay is exhausted more and more through heavier taxation”. Twenty years later, W. Huender, in surveying the economic conditions of the indigenous people of Java and Madura, felt
it is disquieting that taxation is not increasing more…it is impossible to maintain that the indigenous population is not taxed heavily enough. Taking account of the low capacity of people to pay the contrary is rather the case; and present plans to have the people pay even more (for example, by increasingthe head tax and the landrent) can only make one shudder. In fact the most difficult and pressing problem in Java and Madoera is that, while the people have been taxed to the utmost limit and are “minimum sufferers”, apparently the various government measures taken to improve the situation have not been effective.