Private letterbox snub

JAMAICANS appear to have, for the most part, snubbed the postal corporation’s private letterbox services, leading to low take-up of rentals, as well as a high-delinquency rate, which the agency is now trying to reduce by redeploying boxes and matching demand to supply.

In its 2021/22 annual report, tabled in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the corporation indicated that there has been significant under-use of its $2,000 to $2,500 per annum private letterbox service.

“The redeployment effort will take into consideration the need to establish more concrete arrangements in the initial stage with the prospective clientèle, thereby minimising the likelihood of poor resource allocation and non-performance of the asset,” the corporation explained.

The agency said it intended to advance collection efforts for the private mailboxes by contacting new and existing customers and exploring ways of providing payment options to reduce the high-delinquency rate.

In addition to the low use of the private letterbox service, annual mail volume, as well as income from commercial and other services, declined over the period.

According to the corporation’s board of directors’ report, income from commercial and other operations fell by approximately $20 million, moving from $302.5 million to $282.7 million. These services include fast track and Zip mail; disbursement of Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) benefits; property rental; bill payment services; packaging service; mail and freight forwarding service for shipping items bought online; bulk mail; and private letterbox rental.

The agency processed 25 million pieces of local and international mail last year, serving customers across 237 post offices islandwide.

At the same time, CEO Lincoln Allen expressed high hopes for the future of local post and telecoms, noting an uptick in the use of the corporation’s Zip mail and fast track premium services. In his message, he pointed out that throughout the period the agency pushed to modernise services in the pursuit of becoming a profitable and efficient business.

He said, added to prior achievements, the service, “is set to yield tremendous returns in the near future. This is evidenced by incremental gains”, pointing to the progress made with the implementation of counter automation; the digitisation of some post offices; renovation works to select post offices; and the standardisation of operations. The report outlined an increase from just over $10 million in investment income in 2020/21, to $12 million for the review period.

In the meantime, the corporation noted that, while the cheque format used for the distribution of PATH benefits remains in place for 2022/23, the revenues expected from that service will be revised in light of the other options being used by the labour ministry, such as bill payment agencies and financial institutions.

The corporation advised that it would continue to review existing joint venture arrangements to assess their level of contribution to the growth of the agency.

Revenues from commercial services for this fiscal year are projected at $308.4 million, advancing up to $455 million by 2026.

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