Government is now in the process of implementing steps to bring Bermuda’s Post Office “up to the 21st century”.
According to Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert, the Bermuda Post Office is “currently undergoing major upgrades in its systems that will have great benefits to the general public”.
Now in the “first phase” of installing an IT programme, which will allow the BPO to provide “a wide range of products”, including online services, bill payments “and other transactions not normally associated with the postal service”, eventually the new additions will be available in all post offices.
“We are confident that these new services will make life simpler and more convenient for the general public once they are up and running,” said Mr Furbert, who is set to attend a special congress in September being held by the Universal Postal Union.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, he said the event will examine the possible impact of the United States withdrawing from the global body and how it will affect other nations, including Bermuda.
Such a move would cause “turmoil and volatility in the worldwide shipping rates, with a resultant increase in costs for mail and parcels”, said Mr Furbert.
“The brief synopsis is that the United States has issued notice of its intention to withdraw its membership from the UPU with effect from October 18 2019. Should the US proceed with this notice, the adverse ramifications for Bermuda and the rest of the world will be significant,” he said.
“We are hopeful that, after discussions and resolutions are reached in September, the US will remain in the UPU and that an agreement can be reached on the way forward with the setting of universal rates that are agreeable to all members.
“At the heart of this matter is the disagreement on the rates charged for parcels shipped internationally,” said Mr Furbert.
“The US has stated that it costs more for mail and parcels to be delivered within the US, say from New York to Florida, than it does for a parcel shipped from China to the US. With the vast amount of parcels shipped from China, this is causing anguish with the US and they consequently, are seeking to leave the UPU.
“Should the US withdraw from the UPU, they would be able to set their own postal rates and this in turn, would cause turmoil and volatility in the worldwide shipping rates, with a resultant increase in costs for mail and parcels.
“Equally worrying with the US withdrawing from the UPU would be the devastating logistical effects it would have on worldwide postal services. For example, the United States Postal Service could refuse to handle international post and parcels and we would be forced to contract an independent vendor in the US to deliver our packages within the US.
“To resolve this matter, the UPU is hosting a special congress in September during which several options will be discussed and eventually, voted on.”
He also noted that postal services worldwide “have undergone significant changes due to several factors, including technological advances such as email, as well as the emergence of competition in the parcel post business, such as couriers”.
“Regrettably, the postal service in Bermuda and around the world have not kept pace with these developments,” he said.
“The entire postal service industry has been dramatically and negatively impacted by the evolution in the manner in which people ship their goods and transmit their mail. This evolution has been taking place for years now and it is clear that our postal service has to change its model or face certain demise.
“Against this backdrop, this Government has a vision to implement far-reaching and innovative changes in the way we deliver our postal services and products in Bermuda. To that end, this Government is now in the process of enhancing the Information Technology services and products that the Bermuda Post Office provides in order to bring it up to the 21st century,” he added.
“The Bermuda Post Office is currently undergoing major upgrades in its systems that will have great benefits to the general public. We are currently in the first phase of installing an IT programme called SWIFT 1 with the second phase, SWIFT 2, being completed within the coming weeks.
“Once these major IT enhancements are completed, the BPO will be able to provide a wide range of products to the general public, including online services, bill payments and other transactions not normally associated with the postal service.
“Eventually, these will be available in every post office throughout Bermuda and will provide a greater convenience to the public, while ensuring more efficiency in how Government provides its services to its people.”