Abuses in fuel market in Albania, clashes for the publication of the names of the companies that steal from consumers

Abuses in fuel market in Albania, clashes for the publication of the names of the companies that steal from consumers

gas stationTirana, September 9, 2013

A strong debate has sparked in Albania in the recent days about the abuse that petrol stations make with consumers in weight and quality.

General Directorate of Metrology and Calibration carried out an inspection in 133 petrol stations throughout the country, by verifying 833 fuel supply equipment. It noticed that in total 93 stations, consumers were being stolen, as the measuring fuel equipment supplied 20% less fuel than it was paid for. Meanwhile, 11% of petrol stations had supply equipment which didn’t meet the legal standard of verification.

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The directorate of Metrology declared that it has issued fines amounting to a value of 10.5 million ALL (nearly 75 thousand Euros) for 14 petrol stations.

This directorate published the results of the inspection, but didn’t reveal any company names which sell fuel of a low quality or which steals from consumers.

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After this publication, several companies asked through the media for the names of abusers to be revealed, in order for the image of all companies not to be ruined.

The General Directress of Metrology, Kozeta Mesiti declared that the law on inspections in the Republic of Albania doesn’t allow the publication of the data which relate to the commercial activity of subjects.

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“We are not allowed to publish these data, because we are forced to protect the interests of consumers and businesses”, says Mesiti.

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The vice Minister of Economy, Eno Bozdo has reacted toward Mesiti’s declaration. He says that the Directorate of Metrology has the obligation to inform the citizens in a transparent way about the results of inspections in the petrol stations.

The General Prosecution has been involved in this debate. It has launched a nation wide investigation on abuses and has withdrawn the file of the inspection carried out by the Directorate of Metrology. So far there have been no results from this investigation.

The directress of Metrology, Kozeta Mesiti says that 14 subjects that abuse with the amount of fuel have been sent to the prosecution because they were considered to be in administrative violation.

“We have considered all cases as administrative violations but we don’t see elements of criminal offenses. We press charges when we identify the existence of a criminal offense. At the time being, we only have to deal with administrative offenses”, said Mesiti.

Confederation of Industries, an organization comprised of a considerable number of Albanian and international private businesses, said that it supports the incentive of the Prosecution for the launch of investigations in regards to the constant problems with the fuel market in the country.

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General administrator Gjergj Buxhuku says that the publication of the names of abusers is necessary even for the honest operators in the sector, which are unjustly being punished by consumers.

“The incentive of the prosecution grows as the Directorate of Metrology doesn’t act for the publication of the names of abusers with the amount of fuel”, says Buxhuku.

Acting Prime Minister, Sali Berisha has also talked about this issue. He demanded the approval of a normative act as soon as possible, which will secure full transparency for all companies which deal with the sale of fuels and their quality.

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The Prime Minister said that with this act, he will use the constitutional right of defending the interest of consumers against abuses that certain companies can make in relation to the quality of fuels.

But, Mr. Berisha resigned yesterday (Monday) and this normative act could not be applied.

The quality of fuels is also a problem, because in many cases, diesel and petrol do not meet standards.

According to the data published by the Central Technical Inspectorate, over 30 thousand tons of fuels a year do not meet the necessary standards.

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The market of gas and fuels in Albania has an annual turnover of 1 billion Euros, representing 10% of GDP of the country, which means that abuses can amount to tens of million of Euros a year.

This market in Albania is considered to be an unregulated sector where abuses damage consumers. /ibna/