The Senate has come up with certain highly useful recommendations that could lessen the baleful impact of inflation the federal budget in its present form would have on the people. For instance, its call to withdraw the raise of GST from 16 percent to 17 percent would have a sobering effect on the prices across the entire market. Already, as has been the wont over the years, the prices suddenly spiralled up no sooner than Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had uttered the proposal on the floor of the National Assembly. The public, already smarting under the phenomenal rise in the cost of living because of the previous government’s nonchalant policies, was made to pay through its nose till the Supreme Court intervened to call a halt to this outright pilferage, declaring the law under cover of which the shopkeepers had hiked the prices, as illegal. But that is going to be a short-term relief only since Mr Dar has set great store by the increase to improve revenue earning of the Centre and urged the lawmakers to be “realistic” by taking stock of the economic mess the present setup had inherited.Senator Nasreen Jalil, Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, presented in all 113 recommendations on Friday before the house which approved them for consideration by the government. Some of these suggestions, like increase in the salary of unskilled workers from Rs 8,000 per month to Rs 10,000, have been accepted. However, whether the Finance Minister would heed the Senate’s recommendation about allocating funds for the Iran-Pak gas pipeline, a project of far-reaching benefits to the country, is not clear. By running the power stations on this natural gas Pakistan would have sufficient availability of generating capacity not only to meet the existing demand but also to take care of its growth for quite some time. That is, if by end-2014, when the pipeline would have been completed, the PML-N government had honoured its commitment to progressively get over the energy crisis the country is currently plagued with. Another of the Senate’s proposals was to shun the thought of getting electricity from India. The reason behind this view, contrary to the logic of developing trade ties with the states of the region to quicker progress, is the protection against punitive action by India, should disagreements between the two countries on other issues tempt one to use electricity lines as a pressure lever. Without resolving disputes, particularly the core issue of Kashmir, and making our economy dependent, even though partially, on India, we will be unable to lay down trust on which to approach other issues of bilateral interest.