Grenada Postal Corporation
Delivering the goods
Business View Caribbean interviews Isaac Bhagwan, Director of Post for Grenada Postal Corporation, for our focus on Best Practices in Trade & Commerce
The world may not be writing letters and mailing them by traditional post much anymore, preferring to email, or chat on social media, or have a face-to-face via Zoom, but that doesn’t mean the postal system is ready to retire. On the contrary, with the booming advent of ecommerce and online shopping, parcel delivery is now busier than ever. And the Grenada Postal Corporation is transforming to capture that lucrative revenue stream.
The Grenada Postal Corporation was established as a Statutory Body in 1996 by the Article 21 Act of Parliament. Prior to this, postal service was established in the 18th century by the British and has since been administered as a government service under the Ministry of Works, Communication and Public Utilities. The Corporation is administered by a seven-member Board of Directors appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers on the advice of the Minister of Works. The Board of Director with the approval of the Minister appoints the Director of Post – a position currently held by Mr. Isaac Bhagwan, who is a passionate champion of the postal service.
The Corporation operates with the mission of providing quality and reliable postal communication and related services to local and international customers that are timely, affordable and secure. And which complements the socio-economic development of the country through its network of postal stations and sub offices through out the tri-island state. The corporation comprises seven Post offices, that provide the core services of post, and 35 sub offices that are primarily distribution points and bases for home delivery prep, as well as being collection points for outgoing mail.
The traditional services offered by the Corporation have been streamlined into different product lines for efficiency and to boost revenue, which has been successful as reflected by the earnings from Stamp sales (Postage & Collector Stamps); shipping/logistics from online shopping; terminal dues; and box rentals being the main generators. However, none of this would be possible without the dedicated and hard work of the 118 members of staff (full-time and part-time).
Bhagwan admits, “In spite of the experienced workers boasted by the Corporation, the post faces major challenges in the forms of inadequate technology for this 21st century life style and the lack of an addressing system within the country.” However, the post has been able to capitalize on project funds available through the Universal Postal Union (UPU) resulting in: Improvements in mail conveyance with the acquisition of vehicles and equipment – improving efficiency and timely delivery of mails; Disaster Risk Management – training and equipment to deal with disasters and developing a Business Continuity Plan; and Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) – acquisition of software to digitalize postal services.
That specialized software is now being configured and will enable the post to track and trace all its mails and packages and improve financial accounting including real time updating of accounts, collection services (payments) on behalf of government, insurance companies and utility companies, and also improve logistics for exports and links with the Customs system. “This software has the single greatest potential to propel the Postal Corporation into a modernized, relevant, and efficient entity,” says Bhagwan. “I’m expecting our revenue base to triple within one year of roll out… that’s how confident I am in this software!”
The Corporation reports one positive aspect to come out of the COVID pandemic is the increase in online shopping. Parcels continued to come because people were shopping online. “That has been going quite well from my end,” says Bhagwan. “Amerijet has been the only airline that continued to carry cargo and mails until recently. American Airline (AA) is now moving cargo (mails) in the absent of passenger load. The airline has been a key partner and flights are expected to increase with the easing of COVID and gradual opening of airports. Our partner APG Global based in Miami is providing key logistics for online shopping and shipping of parcels. Their workload has increased with the huge volume of online shopping.”
The Corporation also has an excellent working relationship with its banks (Republic and Grenada Co-operative). With the increase of online transactions, payments are made directly into the Corporation accounts in real time. Another valuable partner, Huggins, provides logistic support with transport of mails and parcels. Customs & Excise is not often seen as a key partner but they are charged with the responsibility of collecting government revenue at the ports. They have an officer stationed within the main Branch and this greatly facilitate customers with clearing their small items and parcels.
The Grenada Postal Corporation workforce enjoys the friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Bhagwan shares, “I have a very open-door policy. Even though I’m busy, I take a chance to go and meet with the staff downstairs or go out to the community and the district offices and speak with them, and I’ll go to a sub-station and interact with customers – just to get a feel for what is happening. I know most of the faces and the names of the staff and I make it very easy for them to speak to me. And I meet with the management team once a month, and give them the opportunity to discuss any issues and offer a solution and we take it forward from there. We all get along quite well.”
The fact that people are opting for email instead of sending letters by post, means revenue from postage stamps has steadily declined. Isaac reports that this is a major concern. Bhagwan notes, “The use of the internet and social media to exchange information has really cut back on our sale of stamps. So I’m now looking into the issue of digital stamps and the current legislation that needs to be amended. With this digital age, we need to move in that direction.”
He adds, “I’m also looking at the area of philately as a source of revenue collection, so people will be able to go on our site and purchase an interesting stamp for their collection. We have some beautiful images on Grenada stamps of our landmarks, historical buildings, celebrations. I think we need to get children more excited about collecting and for people in general to have an appreciation for the art. We have boy scouts and girl guides and pathfinders and one of their badges is for collections. So I’d like to make them more aware and excited about stamp collecting and that they would carry it on into other places.”
What does the future hold? Bhagwan has some key insights into what lies ahead for the postal service, overall. He shares, “Of course, the whole business environment is changing. The traditional function of the post will remain to some extent, but we have to transform it into more of a parcel-related company. Because logistics is the way it’s moving forward, and we have that opportunity with improvement in technology that will help a lot in the area of revenue from ecommerce. Also there is a great opportunity for us to do more export, especially for the small businesses. Currently, I can get to the U.K. and the U.S. market for local products like spices, chocolate, sea mosses and these kind of things that we export. And we’d be able to help entrepreneurs to export those in small quantities, which can sometimes be a challenge.”
That in itself, would bring in a large amount of foreign exchange and also enhance employment and revenue to the country. If an airline could bring in packages and have a full load to take back out, that would be exciting. Bhagwan adds, “I believe that getting involved in the area of logistics would really transform the post and bring new opportunities and revenue for us.”
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AT A GLANCE
Grenada Postal Corporation
What: A provider of quality postal services to the local and international customers
Where: Head office in St. George’s, Grenada