THE presidential ordinance issued late at night on Wednesday nullifies the relief that the Supreme Court interim decision against the imposition of the carbon tax on petroleum products had provided to the general public and a surcharge in the name of petroleum development levy has been imposed. As a result the apex court and the executive are at loggerheads. Some people would question the right of the courts to tinker with the money bill passed by the Parliament. The fact remains that the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene oil, etc., have gone up again, and the pressure for increase in the transport fare will be difficult to stand. Since petroleum products constitute in one way or the other inputs in virtually all goods and services in common use, it is simple logic that the country is up for an across-the-board round of inflation. Whether the apex court was trying to overstep the limits of power granted to it under the Constitution, a pertinent point raised by some experts needs to be taken into account i.e. that the carbon tax after all was not being utilised for the purpose for which it was collected. Granted the ongoing operation in Swat and the huge expense being incurred on the IDPs has resulted in a severe financial crunch for the exchequer. But the fact remains that to use specific taxes for the general end of covering the budgetary deficit is highly questionable. Another, most glaring example that reflects poorly on our successive leaders' sense of the nation's welfare is the fact that the Iqra tax has never been used to advance the cause of education. It shows a callous disregard of a most fundamental need in a society where literacy is the lowest in the region. One would have wished that the government spared the general run of people of any burden and tax the richer sections of society. Tax on agriculture for instance could have been levied at a certain level of income. Measures could have been adopted to plug the loopholes of the rampant evil of tax evasion. Several other ways could have conceived to help the common man. While the IMF condition of narrowing the deficit could have been met, the poorer sections of society would not have been adversely affected.