IN its first meeting since the resignation from the Cabinet of Shaukat Tarin, its Chairman by virtue of being Finance Minister, the Economic Committee of the Cabinet essentially ran on the spot, not taking any major decision, even though it was chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani himself, with whom the Finance portfolio now rests. Mr Gilani was in an unduly self-congratulatory mood at the meeting, and took the view that the government had achieved important economic targets. He also felt that foreign reserves were at a respectable level, the growth in workers remittances had been impressive and revenue collection had improved. He also claimed that investor confidence had improved, apparently basing this claim on the improvement in large scale manufacturing. In pursuance of an earlier Cabinet decision, the PM ordered the setting up of Price Control Committees at the district, tehsil and town levels throughout the country. He said that the Committees should ensure the availability of essential food items, especially sugar, in the market. Clearly, sugar and its availability go on being an issue. The PM ordered timely implementation of the Cabinet decision to import sugar to ensure smooth supply in April. The ECC was informed that the core inflation, which excludes food and energy inflation, had run at 10.3 percent in January, down from 10.7 percent in December. CPI-based inflation was 10.8 percent in July-January, down from 23.9 percent the previous year. Food inflation, 29.8 percent the year before, was down to 10.9 percent. That is the aspect the common man finds most provocative in todays economy, and which the government needs to control. With food inflation running at over 10 percent, there is no room for self-congratulation. However, inflation has come down to a rate where further efforts from the government would make the ravages of inflation relatively limited. This is the time at which the government should control its own spending, and should work harder at reducing the lavish expenditures engaged in by the army of Ministers in the present Cabinet. If indeed the ECC decisions, as observed by the PM, do reflect the true aspirations of the democratically elected government for the welfare of the people and the alleviation of poverty, it must push through measures which achieve these goals rather than simply accord approval to development projects. After all, it is a Cabinet committee, and is empowered to make decisions on behalf of the entire Cabinet. The ECC must also reject the IMF package, and thus the entire War on Terror, if it really wants to meet the peoples aspirations.