Portugal to privatise postal service in 2012

The Portuguese government has stated its intention to privatise Portugal’s postal service, Correios de Portugal, by the end of 2012. Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar submitted the State Budget for 2012 to Parliament yesterday, including as a priority a plan to sell a number of public-owned corporations next year.

Other than financial services, the State Business Sector in Portugal has seen its earnings fall 28% from 2009 to 2010, to become a drain on the country, which is desperately trying to restore its fiscal stability having taken a EUR 78bn bailout from the European Union in May.

Correios de Portugal (CTT) was one of those the Budget described as having a generally “positive” economic performance.

However, the government said its plans to privatise the operator were a priority for its work in the communications sector, along with preparations for opening up the Portuguese postal market to competition.

Referring to the 2008 EU Directive requiring liberalisation of Member State postal markets, the Budget stated: “In the postal sector, following the transposition of the third Postal Directive, the government has set as priorities for the sector implementation of policies to liberalise the market and the preparation of the privatisation of CTT, which will be carried out by the end of 2012.”

Consultation on measures to liberalise the market was held earlier this year.

CTT has seen its postal volumes declining by 4.6% this year, as its customers shifted into using electronic communication alternatives.

However, commenting on its first half results last month, the operator said the impact on its results was “largely offset” by cost-cutting measures, meaning net income has increased 23% compared to last year.

CTT handled 553m mailpieces in its first half of 2011, compared to 580m pieces the same period in 2010. Of this, unaddressed mail saw a 1.4% decrease year-on-year from 278m to 274m pieces. Stamp sales dropped 11.4% to EUR 4.1m for the six months.

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