AS the news of Japan joining the Eurozone in recession comes in, on the heels of the failure of the G20 summit to inspire the hope of stemming the rot in the global economy, the portents of worse times ahead seem only too real. No doubt, leaders of the world's 20 most powerful economies agreed, meeting at Washington late last week, to take certain reform measures to 'kickstart' growth and revitalise markets, they left it to individual states to devise their own responses to interest rates and public spending, taking away the impact that a coordinated move and a clear-cut approach would have made on the economic situation as a whole. The summit's decision to accord a greater role to emerging economies, however, reflected the stark reality that the US and the West no longer held the key to an economic turnaround. The spreading recession would inevitably spread its tentacles and act as a barrier to recovery even of economies that are relatively better placed. For Pakistan, already in the grip of a severe financial crunch and growing impoverishment due to an uncontrolled inflationary spiral, it is bad news, indeed. The big dose of money, to the extent of $7.6 billion, it is expecting from the IMF, though a welcome development, obliges the government to operate within an agreed formula of fixing prices and withdrawing subsidies to the detriment of the general public's immediate interests. But then some of the IMF credit's good points, like trimming down official expenses, slashing non-development spending in line with the demands of the current crisis, and tapping all legitimate sources of revenue through taxation, should be considered a blessing in disguise. For instance, the idea of the imposition of a tax on agriculture must be readily adopted, and the holders of big chunks of land, quite a number of whom roam the corridors of power, should be brought into the tax net. The concerns of the hard-pressed classes of society ought to be addressed on a war footing, with industrial and other sectors of production getting an equal priority.