Volume 4 Chapter 26
Banta City prosperous on the surface
Xu Yi turned over with a faint smile, "Isnt it the same for you to see it for his majesty now?"
"Perhaps" Seveni nodded with a smile.
Three months had passed and Seveni was no longer filled with grief like when she received the news that Lampuri Thirteenth had passed, there was the same gentle smile as before. Compared to before, her smile was even more gentle, making one feel close to it.
Thinking of what Seveni did during this time, Xu Yi couldnt help feeling a bit of admiration in his heart.
Being able to remain calm in front of great change and keeping to ones mind without falling to the great seduction of power, there were only few people in this world that had a will as firm as hers.
"Speaking of this, you are still only calling royal father king." Seveni looked at the Porter Chamber of Commerces ships passing along the river and she suddenly said, "After big brother took the throne, he hasnt done anything to you or the Frestech Chamber of Commerce, why are you still unwilling to accept him?"
"Its not whether I accept him or not." Xu Yi shook his head, "This is just a habit. Ive only see one king in my life and as for his highness Eric…I cant look at him at all, so I cant call him this. Then again, I am just a normal merchant, it doesnt matter what I call him."
"Xu Yi, your old habit is out again." Seveni revealed a naughty smile and reached out her hand to tap Xu Yi, "You always look down on yourself. Are you really just a small merchant? There might not be a single person in the kingdom that can compare to you. If even a person who can affect the decisions in half the cities in the kingdom is a small merchant, then what are the other merchants in the kingdom?"
"Your highness, dont tease me." Xu Yi shook his head with a bitter smile, "Those cities made those decisions to earn some money, it isnt related to me. If your words fall onto his highness Erics ears, I might be in trouble."
"Its another one of your bad habits." Seveni revealed a faint smile, "Whenever you dont mean what you say, you talk formally. Relax, big brother has agreed to treat you and the Frestech Chamber of Commerce well, he has done that based on everything you can see. Look, big brother has taken the throne for three months, but he has never done anything to you or the Frestech Chamber of Commerce. So you can be a bit more bold and continue to develop the Frestech Chamber of Commerce like before."
Xu Yi looked, "Youre here to speak for his highness Eric?"
"No, Im here to speak for the Lampuri Kingdom." Seveni shook her head as her expression became serious, "Xu Yi, please dont give up on the Lampuri Kingdom, alright?"
Xu Yi was silent for a bit before saying, "I never said I would give up on the Lampuri Kingdom."
"But you are doing this." Seveni said with a serious look, "In the past three months, you havent been expanding the Falling Rain Valley base like you told me before and the personnel in the Falling Rain Valley have been moved out. From what I know, the Frestech Chamber of Commerces magic research facility and magic machine development center have been moved to your companys base in the Stantine Duchy, right?"
Xu Yi had no expression as he neither confirmed or denied this, "Where did you learn this?"
"Could it be you thought that such large movements could be hidden from everyone?" Seveni asked back without any courtesy, "Other than this, Still and your daughter Freya have already been sent to the Stantine Duchy. Doing this, could it be that you dont want to leave the Lampuri Kingdom?"
"Youre thinking too much." Xu Yi said with a smile, "The Stantine Duchy climate is much better than here, so sending Still and Freya there is for them to have a better life."
"Dont lie to me." Seveni glared at Xu Yi and said in a firm tone, "Xu Yi, Ive known you this long, how could I not see what youre thinking? You have already made your plan and are implementing it step by step. Actually to be honest, you already had this idea when you first went to the Stantine Duchy over two years ago, right?"
After looking at Sevenis eyes for a bit, Xu Yi said with a sigh, "I am just leaving a way out for myself. Your highness, didnt you urge me to prepare ahead of time three months ago? Now youre accusing me, what is this?"
Seveni had a sad look on her face before gritting her teeth and saying, "I understand your ideas, but Xu Yi..cant you be a bit more patient? Have some confidence in big brother, at least make your decision when he starts moving against you and the Frestech Chamber of Commerce, alright?"
"Itll be too late then." Xu Yi gave a soft snort, "You want me to have more patience and confidence? Seveni, if you took the throne, I can give you patience and confidence, but as for his highness Eric..He,he.."
"But I feel that in the three months big brother has taken the throne, hes already done very well. At least he isnt like you worried, moving against you and the Frestech Chamber of Commerce as soon as he took the throne, right?" Seveni didnt give up.
"Is that so?" Xu Yi asked back. He looked at Seveni for a while before suddenly asking, "Your highness, I heard that after handing over your duties, youve been in your own territory and never left, right?"
"Yes." Seveni nodded, "This is to make big brother feel assured. Coming to see you is my first time leaving my territory in months."
"Did his highness Eric ask you to come see me?" Xu Yi asked.
"No, this was my decision. Big brother just informed me of the situation." Seveni replied.
"Thats no different from asking you." Xu Yi gave a shrug, "It seems like his highness Eric really has an understanding of your character. Alright, it doesnt matter what the reason is, but youve lived in seclusion in your territory for months, so you dont know the outside situation."
"What? Is the situation different?" Seveni was a bit confused, "I didnt notice anything strange on the way here? Rather when I came to Banta City, I felt that its become more prosperous, so Ive been very happy."
"You cant see it on the surface, as for the real situation..Ill give an example. Seveni, did you know that the tax has been adjusted for the companies of the cities recently?"
"Tax adjustment?" Seveni slightly knit her brows, "How was it adjusted? Was it higher or lower?"
"What do you think?" Xu Yi gave a cold laugh, "Just six days ago, the City Lord Manor announced the latest business tax rate for Banta City. According to this rate, the magic machine industry which includes our Frestech Chamber of Commerce is a new industry, so it enjoys the new business tax rate. To put it simply, this is a protection tax on the magic machine industry, going from 5% to 8%."
"Extra taxes?" Seveni knit her brows even more, "The previous taxes didnt change?"
"No, the previous taxes are also higher. Take our Frestech Chamber of Commerce for example, our yearly income is over five million gold coins and belong to the first class company classification. The tax rate for first class companies went from 43% to 56%, going up a high 13%."
"13%?" Seveni was stunned, "Why did it suddenly increase this much? Adding in the extra taxes, wouldnt it be raised by close to 20%?"
"Our Frestech Chamber of Commerce isnt just at 20%, its over that." Xu Yi said with a cold smile, "Of course, other than our Frestech Chamber of Commerce, most of the other companies dont sell magic machines, so their taxes havent been raised that much. The highest is the Amrit Chamber of Commerce which received around a 17% increase."
"This is crazy!" Hearing the data from Xu Yi, Sevenis expression sunk, "Raising it suddenly by this much, how much profit do you even have left?"
"Your highness, if I told you that over half of our yearly profits are taken because of this tax rate, would you believe it?" Xu Yi said with a taunting smile.
Seveni was silent before nodding with a slightly confused look.
"If its like this, why does Banta City seem more lively? Look, there is cargo being sent all over and most of them are magic machines, why is that?"
"Its very simple, with the drop in profit margins, if they dont sell more of it, they cant earn money at all. This is a problem for maintaining the basic operation of a company." Xu Yi said with a sigh, "Seveni, when you wandered around the city earlier, didnt you realize that there were far fewer smiles?"
Sevenin thought of when she went around Banta City with Xu Yi in the Magic Sedan, she found that he was right.
Banta City did seem more prosperous and more goods were being transported, but the people didnt have brimming satisfied smiles like when she had been the City Lord. All their faces were serious and their brows were tightly knit, like they were under a lot of pressure.
"The companies cant make money, so naturally they find ways to cut costs. The most important cost is the worker wages." Xu Yi explained, "Just in the last month, there were over fifteen riots in the factories of the large companies, all protesting the drop in wages."
Seveni looked at the distant Banta City in silence.
"The workers are unhappy, but most of the merchants in the city are even more unhappy. There have been many magic machine companys chairman who have complained to me, saying that they cant hold on." Xu Yis expression was also ugly, "I cant do a thing and can only tell them to hold on."
"Then..can they hold on?" Seveni hesitantly asked.
Xu Yi gave a cold laugh, "What do you think?"
Seveni looked at Banta City in the distance again, falling into thought and not saying a word.