QUITE obviously, it is under the IMF pressure that the State Bank has maintained the high discount rate of 15 percent, which has not, in any case, produced the expected outcome. Rather, it has dismayed the business community that was hoping for a sizeable reduction. Industrialists, in particular, have voiced serious concerns about the continued high rate, forecasting a collapse of the industrial sector. Strangely, other countries, including our rivals in textile exports, India, China and Bangladesh, are offering incentives that also include reduced discount rates to enable the manufacturers to market their products at competitive rates. In Pakistan's case, the textile exports, our main foreign exchange earner, have fallen by 0.3 percent. One had hoped that our economic managers should have given due consideration to this aspect. Governor State Bank Syed Salim Raza has, however, claimed that the high interest rate has helped ease the consumer price index. There might have been some marginal reduction in prices, but it has hardly made any tangible impact on the consumer's budget. The monetary policy, which Mr Raza unveiled at Karachi on Saturday, itself urged the government to pass on the benefit of the reduction of international oil prices to the general public, pointing out that the decline in the local rates was not commensurate with that trend. And without a substantial fall in the cost of oil, which is a key input for industry and agriculture, as well as daily life, it is pointless to expect that the common man would find any relief in his suffering. Mr Raza has also said that there are certain indications, which raise "hopes for a certain degree of stability by the end of the current financial year". In support of this contention, he pointed out that recent figures showed that the government borrowing from the SBP had come down and the foreign exchange reserves improved. But the fact that the GDP growth rate in the current fiscal would stand at 3.7 percent, coming down from 5.8 percent in the last year, hardly presage the success of the IMF package. It is quite clear that before we should expect any recovery in the dismal economic situation, we would have to put our own house in order. With long power shutdowns and poor law and order situation remaining unimproved, whatever help we have received or might receive in the future would not succeed in attracting local or foreign investors. The picture thus stays bleak, notwithstanding the claim of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that since the country has met the benchmark set by the IMF, it is time for a review.