THE World Bank assessment, given at a meeting of Foreign Ministers from 20 countries, that developing countries were facing a shortfall of up to $700 billion coupled with its disclosure that global trade was going to witness its biggest decline in 80 years, with the sharpest losses expected in East Asia, should set alarm bells ringing in Pakistan. The meeting held on Sunday indicated that the world's richest countries were worried over the worsening scenario. But somehow it would not be possible for the international financial institutions to come to the rescue of poor countries, which underscores the gravity of the situation and calls for urgent measures by these countries. The prescription suggested by World Bank President Robert B Zoellick might help in checking the ongoing economic slowdown. His suggestion, for instance, that investments should be made in safety nets and small and medium-sized companies aimed at creating job opportunities, appears to be a step in the right direction. These are more or less the steps the Western countries, including the Obama Administration, are taking, but so far they remain in the doldrums. It is time they thought of the suffering of underdeveloped countries and came forward to help, and these countries themselves girded up their loins to face the challenge. The high rate of inflation, rampant unemployment and power outages are a matter of great concern for the government whose poor economic performance has caused resentment all around. The political turmoil adds fuel to fire because, as a result, business activity stands severely curtailed, dealing a big blow to the capital market. Bad governance as manifested by the increasing budget deficit and the poor law and order situation remains the bane of the system. Given the global financial crunch that has just started to make its presence felt and the World Bank's reference to it, we need to prepare for tough times lying ahead.