Cayman hosts regional postal workshop

| 18/08/2019
CNS Local Life
Senior postal officers from the Cayman Islands and the region at the Royal Mail Group workshop

(CNS Local Life): Key postal personnel from nine regional jurisdictions participated in a week-long workshop at the George Town Public Library to better prepare for changes in postal accounting systems. The Terminal Dues and Cost Accounting Training workshop, held 12-16 August, was jointly hosted by the Cayman Islands Postal Service (CIPS) and the Royal Mail Group, the designated postal operator in the UK.

The workshop was organised for regional postal operators to gain expertise in complex postal accounting systems, stated a Cayman Islands Government press release. The seminar provided postal operators a chance to enhance their ability to provide sustainable, efficient and affordable postal services and to ensure that Posts can profitably address the needs of the ecommerce market and facilitate cross-border trade, explained Dr Thomas Ryall of the Royal Mail Group, who conducted the workshop.

Participants were postmasters general, or deputies and assistants, or senior postal financial officers from Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, in addition to officers from the CIPS, led by Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow.

Explaining the need for the seminar, Glasgow said that by using the enhanced systems, postal services that are at the destination end of posted mail will be able to collect revenue for international mail, closer to their actual cost of delivery.

Postal operators at the post office of origin – from where the packages, parcels or letters are sent – collect revenue from customers in the form of postage. These postal entities, in turn, pay the postal operator in other jurisdictions that handle the mail along the way, including the final destination of the intended mail, the release said.

Terminal Dues is a postal accounting system that allows the destination post to get paid for delivery. “People generally say that the post office is dying because nobody sends mail anymore,” said Glasgow. “This is not true, but the nature of business has certainly changed. There is a marked decline in documents mail volumes due to today’s internet and electronic substitutions. 

“At the same time, there has been an increase in mail items containing goods which have been ordered via the internet; this is the new nature of the business of the post office worldwide. Increased movement of packages and parcels, brought about by burgeoning global internet sales and customer demand for low-cost, high-visibility shipping solutions is an example of the increasing complexity in the costing and collection of handling fees for postal services.”

The organisers said US President Donald Trump has raised issues around remuneration for low-weight mail items containing goods, and threatened to withdraw the US from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) if these matters are not addressed. “It has therefore become imperative that Caribbean posts be able to analyse the impact that remuneration proposals will have on their operations such as their costs and prices,” they said in the release.

Ryall noted that postal operators and their governments recognise the opportunities that ecommerce represents. “[W]e have seen the Cayman Islands, Guyana and others implement electronic customs solutions that enhance border protection whilst streamlining processes, improving customer experience,” he said, adding that the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla have launched custom-made freight services in addition to traditional mail which offers more choice for consumers.

“The sessions this week also aimed to enable posts to ensure they have the right accounting structures in place for cross-border mails and that posts can effectively price services so that they and their stakeholders can ensure a successful, sustainable future,” he said.

At the workshop, participants learned about the possible development of the pricing structure to deliver international mail and the possible challenges posed by the Trump memorandum on international postal services that may damage the UPU global network.

“Change of this scale presents many challenges to individual posts, but we recognise that by working as a community we can help each other to grow,” Ryall said, thanking the Cayman Islands Postal Service and Government “for showing strong leadership and a vision for the future which will guide us this week”.

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