Postal regulators on Malta have said they are not handing MaltaPost a continuing monopoly on delivering letters under 50g next year, contrary to local media reports.
The island nation in the Mediterranean is among 11 European countries that will fully open its postal market to competition from January 2013, in accordance with European Union postal regulations.
Local media reports this month suggested that the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) will allow the national postal operator to retain its monopoly next year, despite the EU regulations.
But the regulators have told Post&Parcel this is not the case.
MaltaPost will retain its status as universal postal service provider – obligated to ensure mail gets through to every address in Malta. However, other operators will be able to apply for licenses to run postal services across the full spectrum of categories from the New Year.
MCA spokesperson Mandy Calleja said that as laid out in two public consultations run this August, MaltaPost’s reserved area will be “completely abolished” as of 1st January, 2013.
“Anybody can apply for a licence to operate postal services and under the right conditions, be granted that licence. Thus, MaltaPost’s request for a licence will be granted, just as anybody else asking for a licence will be satisfied,” confirmed Calleja.
Malta’s postal market opening was set in its national legislation back in July 2010, with the government taking responsibility to appoint a universal service provider, on the advice of the MCA.
As universal service provider, MaltaPost will continue to have its prices monitored by the MCA to ensure services including letter delivery, bulk mail, registered letter and parcels are affordable, unless markets are deemed to be sufficiently competitive.
Calleja said there was currently “nobody else capable” of carrying out the universal service duties currently borne by MaltaPost, but that over time alternative operators could emerge.
“At which point, the MCA may have to consider the feasibility of assigning the USO, or parts of it, to alternative operators,” said the MCA spokesperson.
“This assessment will be carrier out periodically by the MCA and will also question the need for the assignment of the USO on a postal operator in the process, if market forces are seen to be satisfactorily addressing a particular public need.”
MaltaPost currently delivers mail six days a week to Malta’s 450,000 residents in the islands of Malta and Gozo, with an annual revenue of about EUR 21.4m and profit before tax of EUR 3.1m in the year up to September 2011.
The privatised company was listed on the Malta Stock Exchange in 2008, and is majority-owned by the Lombard Bank of Malta.
MaltaPost has seen its domestic mail volumes shrink by 28% in the last decade, with international mail volumes shrinking by around 40%.