Bulgarian petrol stations will have all customs seals replaced over a period of three days after Prime Minister Boiko Borissov slammed lax oversight on August 19, speaking to reporters prior to the weekly Cabinet sitting.
Borissov said that a recent inspection, carried out by the Interior Ministry, National Revenue Agency and the Customs Agency found that in many filling stations, the customs seals were too loose, which defeated their purpose of preventing tampering with measurement equipment.
“In some petrol stations, 40 per cent of the fuel was actually turpentine, and that without mentioning the amount of sulphur. The measurement probes are sealed in such a way that they can be taken out without breaking the seal, they are so loose that it is as if there is no seal,” Borissov told reporters.
He said he ordered all customs seals in filling stations to be replaced “by Saturday”, meaning August 22, even if that required employees of the Economy Ministry to work around the clock. Later in the day, the ministry said that the process was already underway and that all available staff of the Bulgarian metrology institute would be involved.
Borissov criticised the ministry’s agencies tasked with oversight of the fuel quality, saying that the effect of their actions was “debatable”.
He also asked the competition watchdog to issue a statement “by Friday” on whether there was a cartel between fuel retailers in the country, saying that he found it difficult to believe that the prices charged by different petrol station chains were virtually identical.
The Competition Protection Commission last investigated the four largest retail chains in 2012, when it found evidence of collusion but decided not to issue any fines in exchange for the companies agreeing to implement a series of measures meant to fix competition issues.
(Russia’s Lukoil owns Bulgaria’s only oil refinery and is the largest petrol and diesel wholesaler in the country. Photo: sociate/flickr.com)