Jamaica faces “drastic” reduction in post office network
Jamaica’s Postmaster General Michael Gentles has warned that there will have to be a “drastic” reduction in the number of post offices. Speaking at a hearing yesterday (21 April) of the Jamaican Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Gentles commented: “Over the past five or six years, we have consistently run a deficit close to $500 million, and the issue is that the present network which we have is unsustainable, and the reality is that there is going to have to be a drastic reduction in our network, in the region of 60%.”
Jamaica currently has more than 500 post offices and agencies, and Gentles believes that many of these sites could be replaced by “mobile post offices”. The Postmaster General also suggested that many post offices will have to become multifunctional, as the Post and Telecommunications Department hopes to “work with the private sector as well as other public sector entities to ensure that the underutilised facilities can bring in revenue, while delivering effective service”.
As previously reported by Post&Parcel, Jamaica’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, announced in in September 2012 that the department would be implementing various initiatives at bringing the postal corporation “into the 21st century and tailoring its services to the needs of its customers and stakeholders”.
Mobile post offices and “offering postal services from business places and establishments other than the post office” were among the ideas mooted by the Minister.
An allocation of around $2 billion has been made in this year’s budget to the postal corporation.
Gentles told yesterday’s PAC hearing that the department is continuing to look for additional sources of income, and is talking to Universal Access Fund for the continued rollout of Internet cafés in post offices across the island. “In some locations it has worked very well, in others it needs to be tweaked,” added Gentles.