A case can be made for establishing the Post Office Users’ National Council now

Dear Editor,

Like other interested parties one could not help but note the discourse reported in your columns (SN, June 17), relating to the communication process obtaining between Guyana Post Office Corporation and its client communities; but more implicitly the decision-making process attributed to the corporation.

It seems not inappropriate to place the exchange within the context of applicable statutory provisions which determine the governance structure of the Guyana Post Office Corporation.

There was issued an Order cited as the Public Corporation (Post Office) Order No. 109 of 1976 to be effective from January 1, 1977. According to Clause 5(1) of the Order, there was to be established a “Users’ Council for Guyana to be called  the Post Office Users’ National Council  which shall consist of a Chairman and such number of other members as may be appointed by the Minister.” Regarding membership of the council provision was made for the minister to consult with representative interests (stakeholders) likely to be concerned with matters within the competence of the council, and preferably familiar with special requirements and circumstances of particular areas of Guyana.

The minister and the post office were each required to refer for the council’s consideration, and report, any matter relating to services provided by the post office. The council was also authorised to consider any matter relating to the services provided by the post office in Guyana whether subject to representation or not; and where in its opinion action should be taken, the council might give the minister and the post office notice of that fact, and of the action considered to be taken.
An interesting constraint obtains in the following clause:

“6  1)  Before the Post Office so puts into effect any major proposals relating to any of its main services as to affect the persons for whom they are provided, it shall be incumbent on the Post Office… to refer the proposals to, and to consult thereon with, the Council.”

However there was the qualification that it was for the minister to settle the question as to whether or not a proposal was major.

That the Order took the role of the Post Users’ National Council seriously, was reflected in the statutory requirements for:

i)  meetings to be held at least quarterly; and
more, if requested by three council members;

ii)   that minutes of meetings were kept; and

iii)  that annual reports of its function were submitted to the minister responsible, to be laid in the National Assembly.

The Order therefore stipulated that the minister shall furnish the council with “such officers and staff as appear to him to be requisite for the proper discharge of its functions, and with such office accommodation and equipment, and such services, as appear to him to be requisite.”

Having regard to the above, the Order provided for the minister to “pay such remuneration and other allowances to the Chairman and other members of the Council and the officers and staff of the Council as he may determine and may pay such expenses of the Council as he may determine.”
Specifically Clauses 5(3) and 5(4) of the Order require the following:

“(3) The Minister and the Post Office may each refer to Council, for consideration and report, any matter relating to the services provided by the Post Office.

“(4) It shall be the duty of the Council —

(a) to consider —

(i) any matter relating to the services provided by the Post Office in Guyana which is the subject of a representation (other than one appearing to the Council to be frivolous) made to the Council by or on behalf of a user of the services so provided in Guyana; and

(ii) any matter relating to the services so provided in Guyana which appears to the Council to be one to which consideration ought to be given by it notwithstanding that no representation has been made to it with respect to it, and, if it is of opinion that action ought to be taken with respect to any such matter, to give the Minister and the Post Office notice of that fact (stating whether or not the matter was the subject of a representation made to the Council) and of the action which the Council thinks ought to be taken;

(b) to consider any matter referred to it under subparagraph (3) and to report thereon to the Minister and the Post Office.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the abovementioned council was not previously instituted, it is arguable that with such significant and current users as Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL), Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T), National Insurance Scheme (NIS), and others, a substantive case can be made for establishing the overdue Post Office Users’ National Council, given the high level relationships which now obtain between  the Guyana Post Office Corporation and these important stakeholders. It is hoped that the private sector would also examine these statutory requirements and advise their recommendations accordingly.

It is a mechanism that not only would resolve current decision-making issues, but will add to the comprehensiveness of knowledge that would inform the future quality of decision-making by the governance structure of the Guyana Post Office Corporation.

Albert Einstein once observed: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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