Ministry Faltering in Monitoring of Gas Pump Accuracy

The unit for regulation of weights and measurements in the Industry and Trade Ministry does not protect the public from the use of inaccurate measuring instruments, according to the State Comptroller, who audited its supervision of gas station pumps and bridge scales (for heavy weights), the level of law enforcement and the operation of the metallurgy laboratory. The audit found supervision over the accuracy of gas pumps to be wanting. The allowable deviation is 0.3 percent, but a review conducted in 2005 showed there were deviations detrimental to consumers in 75 percent of all stations, although 66 percent of these fell within the allowable range.

Less than half of all gas pumps were tested by the ministry's unit in 2005, although procedural rules call for annual testing of every pump. The unit is also not equipped with appropriate instruments that would enable reliable, ongoing testing.

In addition, the unit failed to check tens of thousands of weight measurement instruments, which could cost consumers a great deal of money. Bridge scales were found to be tested once in five years.

The ministry said the discrepancy is due to the lack of manpower. The laboratory operated by the unit, which should provide high-quality testing, does not meet the standards that prevail in similar laboratories worldwide, is unfit to perform some of its tasks and the results of its tests are not recognized in other countries.