The cumulative losses of Pakistan Post were Rs. 61.48 billion during the last 10 years including Rs 9.135 billion in 2018-19.
This was revealed to the Senate Standing Committee on Postal Services which also took notice of the absence of Minister and Secretary Ministry of Postal Services from the meeting. The committee, which met with Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh in the chair, also decided to take up the matter with chairman Senate.
Deliberating over updates on accumulated losses the committee was informed that an increase in pay allowances and pension benefits was a major contributor towards the widening gap between expenditure and revenue.
It is also believed that the Ministry of Finance has decreased the rate of post office commission in Savings Bank Scheme from 1.56 percent to 0.50 percent in October 2010 which has reduced the agency receipts of the department. Chairman of the committee, while reviewing details, recommended that operating expenditure against income must be added as well.
Postal Services officials informed the committee that the department generated revenue of Rs. 14.767 billion during 2018-19 against an expenditure of Rs. 23.902 billion. Around 80 percent of the revenue goes to pensions and allowances, the officials maintained.
The parliamentary panel was informed that the first loss of Rs. 145 million was witnessed in 2009-10 which widened to Rs 10.50 billion in 2017-18. However, the losses were reduced to Rs 9.135 billion in 2018-19 and further improvement is expected in the current fiscal year after the increase in charges. When asked about the reasons behind the reduction in losses, the committee was informed that the performance was improved and the department focuses on outstanding dues that helped reduce the deficit.
However, the committee was not convinced with the reply and observed that the outstanding amount was not reflected on the balance sheet, which is quite strange.
Chairman committee Atiq Sheikh said that repeated attempts were made to contact the minister but he didn’t respond and the minister remained absent from the meeting without any notice. “I do not know whether the Minister of Postal, Murad Saeed, considers this ministry as a ministry or not”, the chairman added.
Mirza Mohammad Afridi said that the importance of this committee is being overlooked. Secretary postal services did not come to the first or the second meeting, he added.
Reviewing recruitment discrepancies during previous regimes, the committee recommended that Pakistan Post must focus on figures. A separate briefing was recommended on the National Industrial Relations Commission (NIRC).
Discussing re-branding and modernization the Committee was informed about same-day delivery service, mobile app, pick up service and e-commerce. The committee was informed that Pakistan Post had registered 700 partners to date and 260 packets have been delivered. The number of registered users of the Mobile app is 50,000. The committee was concerned about the small number of users and enquired about its reasons.
The committee also discussed EMS plus, a specialized service for the export sector which aims to deliver parcels at major overseas destinations in 72 hours with real-time track and trace facilities. Chairman Committee advised the organization to consult with the Ministry of Commerce to brainstorm ideas for improving the service.
Discussing the re-branding of GPOs and other services, the committee directed Pakistan Post to provide cost details in the next meeting. The committee was informed that the organization is collaborating with NADRA to renew CNICs through Pak ID at Post offices. This initiative is in its pilot stage. Ateeq Sheikh directed that an exclusive briefing must be given to the committee.
Regarding the automation of Post Offices through the Korean Exim Bank loan, the committee was informed that PC-1 for the digitization of post offices was prepared on the basis of the feasibility report. The committee gave directions for a separate meeting on this issue and said that funding must be provided by the government on valued projects, rather than procuring loans on high-interest rates.
For SAP ERP, the project would entail a cost of $8 million for two years. Ateeq Sheikh was of the view that the projects discussed were good, however, the department lacks focus and funds to carry it through.
Enquiring about the army, navy and airforce’s pensions, the committee was of the view that using banks for the purpose was against that rules. He gave instructions for a separate briefing on the issue.
Chaired by Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh, the members present included Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Aurangzeb Khan, Senator Islamuddin Sheikh and senior officers from Post Office Department along with all concerned.