The Federal Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar, had hardly taken office on Friday, that it was announced that he would present the Federal Budget 2013-2014 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, according to a report appearing in this newspaper, the Federal Board of Revenue is pressing for measures to hike the GST to 17 percent after ending the zero-rating of some items. It is recommending this measure after its failure to collect the amount targeted for the year, and even the amount targeted after a downward revision. This contrasts oddly with the promises of relief made by Senator Dar after his party, the PML-N, won the May 11 election convincingly enough to ensure that it would form the next government. Senator Dar had already been tipped to return to his previous finance portfolio, and had been given the assignment of observing the budget-making process on behalf of his party. He had said that his party planned to give the man in the street relief, something which is not indicated by the recommendations being made by the FBR, which are for more and more taxes, particularly an extension in the GST. Even those proposing the extension are acknowledging that the measure would be inflationary, but this has not deterred them from making this recommendation or their political masters from hearing it.Apart from the prospect of greater, and inflationary, taxation in the coming budget, It seems that the worn out old cry, “The Treasury is empty.” would be no excuse at the start of a new financial year, for spending does not depend on previous savings. The federal government must ensure that the FBR is set realistic targets, and make do with the collection that will be made. However, the present practice, of showing unrealistic prospects of collection, in the certainty that the collection target will be revised downward, must cease. The government must no longer subsidise luxurious lifestyles for officials, elected or permanent, and must learn the lesson that all private persons must, that of living within one’s means.With the budget approaching fast, the government must make clear that it will not try to make up FBR targets. It does exist for a broader constituency than just tax collectors. This budget is perhaps the most important of this government’s life, for it reflects not just its plans for the coming financial year, but also its plans to tackle the economic crisis created by the poor governance and corruption of the last government. It is essential that it gives the already hardpressed taxpayers relief from existing burdens, rather than impose new ones.