Postmaster General Margaret Ashby has defended the General Post Office (GPO) in the face of a suggestion from a former prime minister that it should be the subject of expenditure cuts and rationalization.
Although acknowledging that the developments in technology and communication have affected the role of the GPO, she insisted that the postal service was a “social service” amassing a sustainable amount of revenue for its operations.
Although Ashby was tight-lipped about the amount of revenue generated by the 164-year-old organization, she said a “significant” amount was accumulated from the mailing services.
Earlier this year, former prime minister Owen Arthur singled out the GPO as one of the 63 statutory agencies where the Freundel Stuart administration should revisit its spending.
“We have to rationalize the operations of a post office to make it compatible with living in a world where people are no longer sending to you through the post, but sending messages and post cards by WhatsApp,” he said at the time.
But speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Working 4 Workers campaign, a partnership between the GPO and Demario’s Cycle World in which local postal workers are honoured, the postmaster general explaiined that sending mail was not the sole occupation of the organization which employs nearly 600 workers.
“I’m not sure the former prime minister is aware of the number of revenue generating things the post office is doing,” the postmaster general said pointedly.
She pointed out that over the past few years, the GPO has delved into numerous other services.
“Yes, we are working very hard at changing our focus,” Ashby told Barbados TODAY.
“We acknowledge the fact that mail is declining year after year, so what we are doing is looking at technology and seeing how the post office can assist the average person. We think that everybody has a computer, but they don’t; we think that everybody can go online and feel comfortable, but they don’t, and so the post office is looking for different means.”
Ashby noted that the GPO offers a one-stop bill payment service similar to Surepay. Customers are also able to apply for their United States Visa at the GPO and have their passports delivered to them by courier express.
Partnering with retailers and businesses, GPO also engages in target marketing, facilitating the distribution of brochures and flyers for businesses in specific areas.