THE drop in the prices of commodities should have been a natural corollary to lowered oil prices. While that happened in most parts of the world, there is no sign of it at home. PM's Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin has held the provinces responsible for failing to bring prices down. He has a point. But the Centre cannot feel completely absolved. It has to ensure that macroeconomic measures like the supply position of commodities remain reasonably good. Shortages are perceived beforehand and rectified with imports, while an eye is kept on the export of surplus goods so as not to totally deprive the local market. However, it is the duty of the city government, price magistrates and other official paraphernalia to see to it that traders do not rip off customers. They should ensure that shopkeepers display price lists and that the price mechanism remains in order. The reality, however, is quite the contrary: there is virtually no government attempt at proper regulation. And because of this indifference transporters all over the country have shown no scruples in charging high rates from passengers. The situation is so dismal that even in domains that are under direct government control, like utility stores and public transport, little has been done to bring down the prices. Provincial governments have worked out new price formulae. but unless implemented they remain just a piece of paper. Little wonder that this prompted Mr Tarin to hold provincial governments accountable. However he also expressed concern at the country's revenue performance, something the federal government must attend to. His intention to broaden the tax base and effecting changes in the tax regime appears to be a pragmatic approach. It is thus clear that, at the end of the day, both the Centre and the provinces have to act in concert to alleviate the misery of the masses.