Tue | Aug 22, 2017

New postal push - State agency to target remittances and increased courier service this year

Published:Sunday | April 17, 2016 | 4:00 AMRyon Jones
Gentles
Meryl Laird, staffer at Savanna-la-Mar Post Office, displaying her art and craft items at last year’s World Post Week celebrations at that post office. Her masterpiece – a tote bag with the Jamaica Post corporate logo – displays both her creativity and commitment.
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The Postal Corporation of Jamaica (PCOJ) is targeting the start of its money remittance services this year as part of efforts to grow its earnings and remain relevant in an increasingly digital society.

"We had a plan that was advanced, but because we had a change of government, which legislated a change of board, we have to get new directors and they would have to do the fit and proper work to get the licence," Postmaster General Michael Gentles told The Sunday Gleaner late last week.

"So that is where we are with that process; it is just on hold for the time being," added Gentles.

The corporation, which was incorporated in 1995, is responsible for the management and operations of the island's post offices, and has introduced a range of new products to stem the drift of its customers over the years.

MANDATE

The PCOJ is mandated to transform Jamaica's postal service into a profitable, modern and efficient entity, and to work closely with the Post and Telecommunications Department to achieve this objective.

It is projecting $26.6 million in profit this year despite concerns that fewer persons are using its services.

The 2016-2017 Jamaica Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure shows the PCOJ forecasting total sales of $120 million this fiscal year, up from an estimated $86.51 million last year.

This will be hit by operating expenses of $93.3 million, leaving the corporation in a better position than several other state entities.

For this fiscal year, the PCOJ is slated to continue efforts to modernise the postal services while developing related activities.

"In terms of the overall modernisation we had a plan, but of course the new board will have to vet it, and it will depend on the policy of the Government," said Gentles.

MODERNISATION PLANS

The modernisation plans include the purchase of Phase two of its Counter Automation Software at a cost of $51 million dollar from its $68.55 million capital budget.

A second mobile post office is also slated to be purchased to facilitate access to persons in remote areas.

According to the PCOJ, it will also increase the collection and delivery points for its Zip Mail next-day courier service and, based on rebranding, it is expected to increase its visibility in the industry and grow its market share.

"We launched the rebranded product in June 2015 and essentially, after a couple of months, we are seeing a pickup in the volumes and revenues," Kathy-Ann Yetman, public relations officer at Jamaica Post, disclosed.

"We recognise that we need to push it some more in terms of the marketing trust. But the demand is there."

Yetman added that the service is now being offered only in the Corporate Area, Mandeville, Manchester, and Montego Bay, St James, but will be expanded on a phased basis.

Some of the most common users of the Zip Mail service to date are lawyers, government entities, the accountant general, the court system and small entrepreneurs.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com