Grinded down by a myriad of pressing problems like poverty, inflation and unemployment, the people were expecting the budget to be "poor-friendly" and had developed high hopes in this regard. On June 11, the federal minister of finance presented Rs 2 trillion consolidated federal budget for 2008-09 in the NA. The economic growth rate has been projected at 5.5 percent with the fiscal deficit as 4.7 percent of GDP. But the people have met despair and their hopes have been dashed to the ground. Once again we have failed to break the decades-old vicious cycle. Perhaps the poor are ordained to suffer the privations and miseries while the rich are indulged in luxurious lifestyles. Last year Omar Ayub envisaged "buzzing economy" in the budget but soon the myth exploded and today the economy is in tatters. Fudging the figures has remained the hobbyhorse of our finance ministers who are least bothered about the popular sentiments. This budget presents a list of claims that are divorced from reality and cannot be realised. There's more to these figures than meets the eyes. Likewise many sectors have not been given proper attention out of traditional attitude of apathy. The government has promised to staunch the inflationary tide at 12 percent without developing any mechanism for controlling the prices. The exogenous factors responsible for the current malaise - oil price hike and upsurge in the international food prices - are beyond the government's control. In the international market the oil price has hit $133 per barrel and there is no chance of it climbing down in the foreseeable future. Pakistan is an oil importing country and so it remains adversely hit by increase in oil prices. No serious effort is being made to utilise the alternative oil resources available to us in inexhaustible abundance (like coal). Moreover there is a fat chance of government's retreating from its adventurism into mismanagement. Given this situation, it would not be a pushover to constrain the inflationary pressures. Take the education sector. Education is a vehicle for social change. It modernises the society and revolutionises the archaic practices. Despite its significance, a paltry sum of Rs 24.6bn has been allocated for this sector registering an increase of 11 percent as compared to the previous year's allocation. More the pity, this increase too pales into insignificance in view of the runaway double-digit inflation. Our educational system is not in sync with the changing requirements rather it is a reflection of orthodox styles of teaching and conventional learning practices. Education at the primary level remains the most neglected area in the educational system. There is also a dire need to focus on higher education. But all these reforms cannot be accomplished unless a significant amount of GDP is spent on radical reforms in educational system. In the 2008-9 budget, the ratio of direct to indirect taxes remains unchanged. A big chunk of tax revenue is generated from indirect taxes and the latter becomes a burden on low-income groups. The government has failed to widen the tax base in real terms as capital gains tax could be levied. Rather the government has surrendered to blackmailing practices of stock market shareholders and brokers thus exempting capital gains from taxation for another two years. No step has been suggested to prevent tax evasion by big industrialists and feudal lords. Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan's economy but the successive governments have failed to take concrete steps to give a boost to the farm sector. In the present budget too the farmers have been taken for a ride and no substantive relief like reducing the prices of agricultural inputs or writing off small loans, has been announced. The government has expressed its intention to import 2.5 million tonnes of wheat while the domestic farmers are left rubbing hands. Already the previous government's clumsy approach has plunged the country in a food crisis. It becomes obvious with bare reading of the budget text that the claims of it being "pro-poor" are hollow as our leaders are overwhelmed with feudalistic sloppy thinking. The myth of economic growth has been shattered as the rise in suicide rate speaks volumes of the people's desperation. Is it not paradoxical that the rulers attired in three piece suits, sitting in air conditioned rooms and exulting in intoxicating power are engaged in providing relief to the poor? The undeniable reality is that the politicians of the land of the pure have not got a feel of misfortunes befalling the common citizens in daily lives.