The countrys economic backwardness, despite the abundance of natural resources and more than 170 million hardworking people, no doubt, owes itself to a number of causes. But one unmistakable cause is the paucity of finances, and then there is the stealth or the misuse of whatever revenues the state is able to collect. Thus, development projects that could bring about a real change in society - spread education, modernise healthcare facilities and improve the rickety transportation system, to quote only three aspects - remain, starved of funds, either unexecuted or poorly executed. Three different news items in yesterdays papers provide some vital, though obvious, clues to the reality of inadequate government revenues. While the Prime Minister laments the widespread practice of the evasion of taxes and the curse of the write-off of loans, the Finance Minister pleads helplessness against the parliamentarians and his cabinet colleagues, who adamantly resist the imposition of certain taxes because they would be liable to pay these taxes. Mr Gilani confines himself to saying that an inquiry is underway into tax evasion and loan write-offs of Rs 500 billion, ignoring the point that the public is sick and tired of government inquiries whose recommendations either do not see the light of the day or simply remain on paper. He should at least have given the assurance, an equally unreliable bit of political jargon in our context though, that the outcome of the inquiry would be made public and no one guilty of any crime would be spared. For the time being, however, he should listen to Mr Hafeez Sheikh and, as Leader of the House, should be able to prevail upon the recalcitrant parliamentarians to let taxes, essential to our needs, be imposed, whether the flood tax or the agricultural tax. Mr Sheikh, who was interacting with representatives of leading NGOs whom Mr Gilani had invited to dinner, also pointed a finger at the government when he said that the cabinet size was very large. The PM should know that even reducing its strength by 10 ministries, as he promised to do next month, would not bring it down to a reasonable size. The third news report - the suspension of 148 parliamentarians from their Houses on account of the non-declaration of their assets - might appear, at first glance, to have no impact on the countrys economy or the resources available to the state for public welfare projects. Apart from revealing that our lawmakers demonstrate little respect for the law of the land, hiding assets could reflect the apprehension that knowledge of their assets might ultimately be used to their disadvantage by the tax collector. That the list is studded with the names of well-known and experienced political figures makes one wonder why, after all, they have felt shy of coming clean about their assets and letting their reputation be besmirched.