THE fact that the government has missed the inflation target of 9.5 percent this fiscal year shows not just its half-baked economic policies but also the fact that more people have been pushed below the poverty line. The current level of 11.73 percent is to all intents and purposes the result of rising energy and oil prices. The alarming thing is that prospects for the next fiscal year and indeed immediate future are gloomy because the inflationary figures, according to estimates, are only going to get bigger with the passage of time. One worries the most about the food inflation and its impact on the middle classes, especially those in the fixed income groups. The price of basic food items like milk, eggs, meat, bread and utility store items seems to be rocketing skywards. The average man is already hard pressed trying to make ends meet, given this inflationary spiral that is now breaking past records. The cost of living is shooting up every month and how hard life is becoming for the masses can be gauged from the number of people resorting to desperate acts like suicide. Certainly, one of the factors bringing down the economic indicators, as the Prime Minister himself had admitted, is the fight against militancy. However, that cannot absolve the government of its obligation of ending the peoples plight and seeing to it that they are easily able to at least feed themselves. The other major reason for the crumbling state of the economy is of course the IMF dictates that the government has been rather obediently following. It is nonsensical to let the IMF craft and direct our fiscal policies merely for the sake of a few peanuts thrown our way. At the end of the day, the governments failure to adopt austerity measures or control the ballooning budget deficit are also factors responsible for the present plight of the economy. What is depressing is that Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh is thoroughly committed to the IMF and seems least interested in any creative programme to kickstart the economic engine.