LIKE all Finance Ministers before him, Syed Naveed Qamar did not just enjoy the limelight of the Budget Speech, but also the post-Budget press conference. That press conference was as noteworthy or forgettable as those held by his predecessors, but Syed Naveed was supposed to have paid attention to the people's aspirations, and announced a Budget that provided relief to the ordinary citizen. Instead, we had the rather limp admission at the press conference that the government had failed to provide any relief to the common man. This would have been true if the Budget was examined in itself. Apart from the increase in taxes, there has been an end to subsidies. Syed Naveed indulged in the almost universal admission in-not-so-many-words of they had been 'rationalised' (or raised), to contain inflation. The government, it appears, is as intent on blaming everything on the rise in the world prices of both food and fuel as was not to be expected from what is virtually a pure PPP government. That explains the Finance Minister's tame admission that these subsidy-ending measures of the government could result in more inflation, on top of what was already a record year for inflation, particularly food inflation. If Syed Naveed thinks the increase in government pays and pensions, or in the minimum wage, will make much of a difference, he is badly off-target. Those raises will only make a difference in the sense of enabling government servants to make two ends meet, nothing more. The Budget has ignored, or rather sidestepped, the cost-push factor in inflation. The pay-raise will be swallowed up by future inflation. The real problem the common man faces is not just inflation, though that is real enough, but also the absence of supply, not just of wheat, but also of power and gas. Ay least since the February elections, he has looked to the elected government to solve these basic problems on the coming Budget. It has come and gone, and so has the post-Budget press conference, but his problems remain unsolved.