Saying there has been a drastic decline in the use of traditional postal services over the years, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes has said there is a need for post offices to reinvent themselves and expand their offerings to the public.
“On a personal note, the Providence Post Office always knew that by the 20th of December, Cathy Hughes would carry a lot of cards and so they would get a lot of money off of me. That has not happened in the last five years. So, multiply that effect for everybody that once a year would contact friends and relatives overseas and would send their cards,” she explained, while pointing out that the phenomenon occurs around the world and brings the postal service and post offices to a point where they have to reinvent themselves.
Pointing to post offices in hinterland areas, Hughes said that they are perfectly positioned to provide more services than they currently offer.
“…And we are not talking only as an ICT hub, with internet access for communities, but [there is] certainly an opportunity for people to fill in their passport forms if they don’t have a computer at home, apply for a business registration and so on,” she noted, while highlighting that the change would fall directly in line with the ministry’s mandate to guide the process by which more government services are accessible online.
Hughes also said that because little investment has been made towards the postal service over the years, there is an urgent need for the upgrades.
“I am embarrassed at the level of services we provide,” she stated, while citing seating for customers who are waiting for services as an example.
Hughes further explained that new payment methods are also being examined, since there is no reason why anyone should still be collecting physical cash for pensions or other reasons. She said there are several parts of the Caribbean where monies are sent directly to persons’ bank accounts or their Mobile Money accounts.
Hughes added that there is also need for the postal service’s shipping services to be reinvented to cover a wider range of areas, if it hopes to stay relevant and increase its revenue stream.
“One of the things that I think they still hold a very strong role in is that in today’s world it’s a global village, so you and I and most people are able to order stuff online and this is where the shipping is so important. I can tell you that the Post Office’s Swift Service rates are half of what some of the major companies would charge somebody to bring a package,” she said, while stating that once emphasis is placed on the shipping service, the post office would be able to garner a better revenue stream.
Hughes also touted the idea of a delivery service, which is currently nonexistent. She also said that the Guyana Post Office Corporation must be able to provide a reliable service if it is to compete and outperform major companies. “So there are a lot of innovative opportunities given the new role that post offices have to play,” Hughes noted.