OUR rampant inflation continues unabated. Only this April, we saw our highest ever level of inflation, 17.21 pc. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, our food inflation for April was 22.50 pc, the highest in the region. And from what we're led to believe, the situation is going to get worse. Now granted, food prices the world over are rising and there is also a global energy crisis but we have done little to mitigate the problem. Far from that, our problems have been compounded, in the energy sector, the government's penchant for increasing oil prices not just to reflect international prices but to draw revenue; in the food sector, by the government's mismanagement of the agricultural goods market and an ill-thought out food export policy. Add to this the large amount of speculation in the currency markets that has led to the recent slide of the rupee. A cheaper rupee means more expensive imports. Expensive imports would translate into further inflation in our import-based economy. With our oil import bill taking up a substantial chunk of our total imports, there really is no amount of economic restructuring, no amount of reduced reliance on imports we can pull off to get around the problem. The PML-N's Ishaq Dar, still the Finance Minister, his resignation not having been accepted as yet, indicated towards several new taxes, including capital value tax on real estate and capital gains tax on stocks gain. There was also speculation from certain quarters of income tax restructuring towards progressive taxation to perhaps tax the rich a bit more to provide a measure of subsidy for the poorer segments of society. Though the nigh breakdown of a coalition when the budget is round the corner is never a rosy scenario, it is particularly uncomfortable now with the Finance Minister belonging to the party that has opted out of the cabinet. If the gloom and doom scenario that Mr Dar had given the nation about the performance of the previous regime is anything to go by, things are going to be tough for his successor, widely believed to be senior banker Shaukat Tarin, who would get an even lesser period of time than Dar did to do his thing by June. Though Dar's homework and the deliberations of the permanent civil service would aid whomever it is going to be, it might turn out to be an insipid plan. These are desperate times. Though the prices have not led to a serious law and order situation as yet, as they did in Haiti where the government was actually toppled by hungry rioting mobs, things just might vector off in that direction, at least in certain parts of the country.