The government has drafted a master plan to modernise the postal system aiming to improve the services and give a boost to revenue collection.
Although the department has seen a gradual and steady rise in its revenue earning, it is still almost half of its expenditure.
In 2016-17 fiscal, for example, the revenue earning was Tk 374 crore but the expenditure was Tk 837 crore. In the following year, the collection increased to Tk 405 crore but so did the expenditure – to Tk 841 crore. By the last fiscal, the revenue earning rose to Tk 445 crore while the expenditure increased to Tk 878 crore.
Currently, the postal department provides basic and agency services. The basic services include letters, parcel, packet, GPP, DPL, EMS, money order, speed post, philately, and GEP.
The agency services include postal savings bank, savings certificate, non-judicial stamp, prize bond buy and sell, and postal order.
The department has its own digital systems such as EMTS, postal cash card and newly introduced Nagad.
It has 16,000 regular employees in addition to 23,000 non-departmental ones who provide services in rural areas for a monthly salary of Tk 5,000 each.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said the post offices are century-old entities that have been providing services to people. “The old system needs to be changed with the emergence of new technologies. The digital transformation of the post offices also needed,” he said.
An official document says the government plans to expand the postal cash card service include setting up of 5,00,000 POS machines in rural and urban-based shops and introduce half a million agent-based licensed post offices.
The department will distribute 50 million postal cash cards among those who do not have bank accounts, install 500 ATMs in rural areas, and extend services of digital post offices to 68,000 villages.
It will also construct 9,886 modern post offices with up-to-date facilities and introduce education insurance,‘Sukonya’, for two million schoolgirls.
The government also plans to introduce small insurances for ensuring the continuation of education and for persons with disabilities. There will also be group insurance for garment workers and crop insurance for marginal farmers. Small businessmen, low-income group, the poor, their treatment and vehicles will also be covered by insurance.
For transporting the mails, the department plans to collect 500 vans, implementation of track and trace system and GMS system at all postal offices, establish 500 ‘digital commerce hub’ across the country. It will also ensure the expansion of EMTS and tracking system in 9,886 post offices and appoint 50,000 agents to expand EMTS service.
The master plan also includes transforming four postal training centres into global standard Postal Information Technology and Digital Service Innovation College.
Construction of international commerce hub and four parcel sorting centres for introducing supply chain management and logistic mail service and setting up four postal circle offices in Sylhet, Barishal, Rangpur and Mymensingh divisional headquarters are also being planned.
The government will also reconstruct and expand the administrative structure of employees of the postal department to provide time-befitting and technology-based services.
It plans to establish 500 post shops across the country, mail exchange offices in 34 border areas, airports and international seaports to ensure cross-border and international mail receiving, transportation and distribution.
The introduction of hybrid mail and setting up of hybrid mail centre and introduction of online philately shop are also being planned.
The introduction of international standard postcode and ‘address for unaddressed’, establishing post bank, upgrading Rajshahi Postal Academy to international standard Postal Technological University, introduction of cashless transaction in all post offices are also part of the plan.
The government also plans to install solar panel at post offices and constructing model post office buildings at 6,229 rural post offices to equip them with modern information technology for multipurpose use.
The government has also taken an initiative to amend the Post Office Act to make it a time-befitting one while steps have been taken to provide training to postal department employees for skill development.
Besides, an agreement will be signed with Sonali Bank for expanding financial service inclusion.
“We’re transforming the post offices to allow them to better serve people … The change we want to make here is technology,” he said.