The Post Office has core responsibilities

Dear Editor,

I recognized a name from long ago as I read the letter about the GPOC and old age Pensions (‘GPOC needs to address the weaknesses in the pension payments system’ SN, Feb 23).

Like Mr Seeram, I too, am a pensioner.  But I lay claim to three other historically relevant facts. I worked as a paying clerk; I worked as a union practitioner setting IR policies; and as Head of, (separately) Personnel and Operations of GPOC. In total I spent thirty-five years in the Post Office, including in the mail and enquiry areas, and ten years in senior management up to performing as Post Master General.

Some time ago when a person communicated that I was “harassing” some management operatives of GPOC I got the message and decided to ‘stay in me corner’.  But my friends know that my stomach is no bank book, and I will speak out.

The Post Office has core responsibilities. They should concentrate firstly on being the best in the receipt and delivery of mail. Then they should be the best in providing agency services at best cost. The payment of old age pensions is a part of those agency services the GPOC undertook to provide for other government agencies. This is nothing new. When I was a postman and a clerk we delivered all the Broadcast to Schools bulletins, all the GIS publications, all the OHMS mail, sent all the press telegrams, sold the GAC tickets, collected the GBC radio licence fees, transferred the GTC payments, paid the court witness bastardy payments, sold the NIS stamps, etc, etc, etc. A lot of these were not paid for, and some not at economic cost. We even provided space to agencies like GTC and GRA at no or a peppercorn rental (some of these decisions came through Guystac or the political directorate).

When the Post Office benefited from a windfall in the form of their (foreign) imbalance claims, we were recognized as a large net foreign exchange earner, and places like GAC, and the Crown Agents were focused as benefiting nationally. Some people saw the different funds in separate GPOC accounts as not necessary, and made them all into one general spending spree fund which is now backfiring.

When the Doris team worked tirelessly to get the political directorate to hand back the Post Office Savings Bank to the GPOC, no decision-maker listened.  So who hands money now to those village post offices? And what of agencies like the police, what do they do with the moneys collected at outlying stations? (There was a time when the GPOC gave cash to the sub-Treasury.) Ever since I worked there my utility bills were paid at GPO.

Nowadays I do not draw a local pension but hand it with my utility bills to my village post office. How many pensioners treat their village PO in the same way?  In fact, I proposed a plan to the GPOC management to develop a scheme for all staff to pay their utility bills and top ups at their post office. Do they do that?

And then we look at another issue: Given that money has to be sent to the village PO to pay us, and we don’t pay our bills there, just imagine how many times it takes to process and count remittances and payments from BOG to the pensioner!  Is there not a shorter format that someone other than GPOC should pay for? (And I would not comment on counting $19500, instead of $20000.

Finally a pet peeve. Somebody in the GPOC management needs to recognize that we exported dozens of trained people into the wider society. When I graduated from UG I got a congratulatory letter from the TUC and a gift from Guystac.  I hope the POC saw it fit to at least send a card to some of our distinguished alumni. We paid for and should benefit from their training. But the bigger picture is that we should call upon them as we did with others before to help us move forward.  After we put our mail delivery system in order, go to GWI (formerly Guywa) and GPL (formerly GEC) and GuySuCo and GTT and NIS, etc, and ask those we exported there to provide assistance. And please ask our Minister to tell her colleagues that it makes no taxpayer sense to duplicate services at higher cost, so let them use the post instead of internal systems, like vans and special delivery.

And rename the Post Office Training School, the George Doris Training School.

And go back to the basics.

Yours faithfully,

LA Camacho

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