APART from the country's worsening macroeconomic indicators like the untenably low reserves, the budget deficit, the fragile banking sector, trouble on other fronts has also been brewing. Though the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet headed by PM's Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin took stock of the domestic inflationary spiral on Tuesday, it gave a nod to the authorities to go ahead with the gas loadshedding schedule for this winter. This would not only affect the domestic consumers, who would have to take that as a fait accompli, but the industrial sector would also have to bear the brunt of the power outages. One hopes that the fears that the gas outages would cripple the country's many industrial zones, rendering millions jobless, do not turn into reality. Unfortunately the ECC, with all its financial wizards, failed to indicate how it planned to bail the industry out of the inevitable crisis while approving the gas loadshedding. Then it also remains to be seen how the committee would cope with high commodity prices in the local market and the common man's difficulties in buying basic food items like milk, meat, vegetables and other kitchen items. Simultaneously there are reports about the non-availability of certain essential products like medicines. Despite considerable decrease in the international commodity prices, in particular of oil, there have been no positive effects on the country's market. Unfortunately, the prices remain where they were. Actually, with the decrease in the price of crude, prices of goods and services should have automatically fallen, but what is happening right now is that the traders belonging to various sectors of the economy bolstered by the government's non-interventionist kind of approach are not willing to do so. It is a pity that the price control committees set up by the government and the magistrates assigned with the job of keeping an eye on the market have done pretty little to better the situation. A free-market economy has its merits, but taking into account the West's response to the current crisis, the government ought to draw its lesson and had better take measures to bring down the prices to reduce the people's suffering. The Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association has threatened not to accept credit cards because it has not been given a large enough share of the pie, adding to the consumers' hardship. Transporters have not lagged behind in minting money and continue to rip off the commuters by charging them with the previous rates. A bleak situation indeed