Prime Minister Y Gilani has set up a committee to talk to the heads of opposition parties to convince them that there must be an end to the subsidies on power, oil and other prices. This seems to be a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, only slightly modified, for the PM had only agreed to a rollback of the fuel prices at the beginning of the month after taking the other political parties on board. However, while the rollback offered the consumer not so much relief as an escape from further burdens, it seems that the government is bowing to international lending agency pressure to take tough decisions over the opposition at the grassroots. Mr Gilani obviously wants to deal with the deficit of Rs 510 billion. However, instead of putting his own house in order, it seems he wants to take 'tough decisions, which will prove tough for the taxpayer, but not the members of his Cabinet, whose luxurious lifestyles are cushioned against any shocks. In this context, it seems the message being sent by the CBR Chairman while addressing the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in which he called for the development of a working partnership between the government and the business community, is merely that the IMF agenda will be implemented. The main plank, which has been avoided so far because of its inflationary effects, has been the RGST. That, along with the withdrawal of remaining subsidies, is very important to the IMF agenda for Pakistan. There remain two broad measures that the government is studiously avoiding that would probably help in bringing Pakistan out of the present impasse. This does not mean that Pakistan should do this, or anything, with an eye on the international lending agencies, but it makes good sense to bring the Cabinet under some sort of control, by reducing the huge number of ministers, and bringing an end to the luxurious lifestyle they maintain at the taxpayers expense. Apart from that measure, which the government brazenly defends on the specious ground that it is a coalition, there is the question of an agricultural income tax. Agricultural incomes have been left to escape untaxed, mainly because those in the assemblies have avoided imposing taxes on them to save their own incomes. It must be remembered that this is quite apart from the not inconsiderable proceeds of corruption. When the government decides to defy the IMF and refuse to impose the inflationary RGST, and decides not just to cut the Cabinet but also to tax agricultural incomes, it will find the books balance quite comfortably.