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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Postal sector strong in face of change

09.10.2012 - The postal sector plays a decisive role in providing social and economic cohesion, confirmed ministers and other dignitaries at the UPU’s ministerial conference.
 Sachin Pilot, Indian minister for communications and information technology
A government can use the postal network to deliver services that a decade ago may have been impossible, said Sachin Pilot, the Indian minister for communications and information technology, at the UPU’s ministerial conference, held yesterday.
India has the world’s largest postal network with 155,000 post offices across the country, 95 per cent of which are in rural areas. More than 25 million Indians also live outside the country, sending back remittances that amounted to 64 billion USD last year, said Pilot. The Post plays a pivotal role in helping people transfer money from abroad to India. Technology is helping this become seamless, transparent and secure, he added.
While the challenges facing the developing world differ from those of industrialized nations, all countries are vulnerable to economic and technological changes. 
“Conditions and capacities are not the same everywhere,” Harsha Singh, deputy director general of the World Trade Organization said. It can be difficult to implement the most appropriate policies but building cooperative and interactive frameworks should be a key concept of postal services, he advised.
As for the sector’s sustainable growth, this required sustainable infrastructure. “The postal business matters,” said Philip Jennings, UNI Global’s general secretary, representing almost five million postal workers. The infrastructure should connect all citizens, all consumers, all businesses, Jennings added.
In the United States, the continuing shift of communication to the internet has had a serious impact on the finances of the postal industry, said Patrick Donahoe, the US Postal Service’s postmaster general. In the last 10 years, first class mail decreased by half - from 50 billion units to 25 billion – resulting in a loss of 11 billion USD. As mail volume falls, fewer postal employees and facilities are needed, “but the sole purposes of the postal service is to meet the needs of the customers” - an objective that has not changed, Donahoe said.
In China, the opposite trend can be seen. The Post is experiencing growth due to reforms and the introduction of competition, said Ma Junsheng, director general of the State Post Bureau. The market size has increased from 10 billion to 40 billion USD. “We need to establish a postal system adapted to national conditions,” Ma said. “One size does not fit all.”
Edouard Dayan, UPU director general, closed the ministerial meeting noting that the world has changed but the UPU is still playing its role at the vanguard. “The best technology must be available to member countries so that all nations may become protagonists in this revolution,” Dayan said.
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