MINISTER of State for Finance, Hina Rabbani Khar, confirmed to the National Assembly that the federal government had cut the Public Sector Development Programme (PDSP) from Rs 421 billion to Rs 275 billion or to Rs 300 billion. She was responding to a call attention notice when she disclosed that the PDSP cut was going to be between Rs 121 billion and Rs 146 billion. This had prompted Aftab Sherpao of the PPP(S), with the PML(Q)'s Humayun Saifullah the mover of the notice, to say that the economy, projected to grow at 3 percent of GDP, would only grow 2 percent. This is one of the biggest cuts in the PSDP ever, and makes it virtually certain that the government will not be able to stimulate the economy. Viewed with other government measures which are anti-growth, such as the unreasonably tight monetary policy maintained by the State Bank, and it becomes clear that the government is more concerned about remaining on the right side of the IMF, than about creating jobs for the burgeoning population. No government can do all that much about inflation, but to combat it, one of the first things it is supposed to do is to make sure that its PSDP spending is not compromised. Instead, spending on lavish lifestyles for ministers has not been stopped, and the government has resorted to the ancient tactic of cutting the PSDP to bring some order to its budget. Incidentally, the dangers of relying on Friends of Democratic Pakistan aid commitments in making the national budget, highlighted at the time of presentation last June, have come back to haunt the government, as well as the PDSP. The release so far of Rs 136 billion was insufficient, quite apart from the shortage of funds, to maintain the PSDP at its original size. The shortfall is ascribed by the government, through the Minister of State, to the additional Rs 110 billion spent on the war on terror, and because of the spending on the subsidy to electricity. The Minister of State did not mention commitments to the IMF while mentioning the stark realities, but they are the real reason for the present cuts. The government should rid itself of this burden, stop spending from its own budget on the War on Terror, and provide the public genuine relief by stimulating the economy, unless it wants to be punished at the polls in the next election. There is no chance of stimulating the economy unless the government maintains its PDSP spending. To this end, if it has to change its obedience to the USA, it must do so, and must stop spending on its war unless it receives compensation in advance, not in the drips and drabbles it is now getting.