As soon as Ramazan comes, markets start extracting exorbitant profits from the customer. Normally in Ramazan, in every Muslim country, prices of goods are reduced but in Pakistan people consider Ramazan the month of profiteering. The fact is that people from lower and middle class families are already finding it hard to manage their budget. Prices have started rising ahead of Ramazan; meat, milk, eggs, sugar, vegetables and fruits are selling up to 20 percent costlier. By charging high prices, irrespective of the price list given to them by the city governments of every province, shopkeepers are flouting the writ of the state. Every year just before Ramazan, essential food commodities disappear from the market, thanks to the mutual connivance of profiteers and black marketers. This artificial shortage of kitchen items, which has become a yearly feature, is created merely to raise the prices. Though the authorities could make some difference by conducting raids to ensure price stability, which is no rocket science, but corruption in tandem with the bureaucratic mindset makes that impossible. It is time the Punjab government takes stern action against the corrupt elements and brings the situation under control.NADEEM ALI WAGAN, Karachi, July 14.