Minister of Finance, Shaukat Tarin, has ascribed the fall in rupee value to declining exports and rising imports (as reported in The Nation of February 21). Tarin said the trend will have to be reversed if further drop in rupee value is to be avoided. However, in these hard times of dwindling water supply for crops, erratic power generation and supply that is far short of the actual demand, increasing exports may seem like a pipe dream. Also the uncontrolled growth in the car economyprivate vehicles increasing exponentially due to lack of even one mass-transit system worth a name in the countrys cities, the oil import volumes are likely to go higher, thereby increasing imports. The present government is a bit lucky in that after reaching the peak in July 2008, the oil prices that had dropped substantially are on the way up again and the trend is expected to continue over the next five years. In this situation, the devaluation hinted at by the Finance Minister may not work out to our advantage because with our inability to increase production, our stagnant exports would bring lower yields and the high import costs due to devaluation may not necessarily result in reduced import volume. In the end, we just might have the same volume of imports costing more, thereby increasing the inflationary pressure within the economy, resulting in.believe it or nota further lowering of rupee value. What do we do? The government has got to introduce austerity measures, a cut in the cabinet size, as the Finance Minister seem to agree, important as a symbolic measure. Stopping revenue leakages and monstrous corruption are steps that are absolutely necessary, a desperate situation demands drastic action. The governance issue should be taken, and should be seen to be taken seriously. The government urgently needs to accelerate work on the Thar Coal Project, streamline the existing energy resources, make speedy arrangements to bring in the electricity offered by Iran while speeding up the IPI or IP pipeline projects. The people, to state the obvious, are reeling under the inflationary pressures and deserve every relief they can get. The Prime Minister keeps saying he has a mandate for five years but people can, and they have, started demanding accountability after two years. Thats democracy The people want the democratic set up to continue but to declare completion of the five-year term to be the end-all objective would be self-defeating. -S.R.H. HASHMI, Karachi, February 23.