“We challenge this new board to see the changing postal environment and the emergence of new commercial challenges as an opportunity to transform one of Guyana’s oldest service providers.” – Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson

KINGSTON - As the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC) seeks to maximise its operations, its newly installed board of directors was urged to adapt the agency to the 21st century.

This charge was given by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson today, March 11, 2016, as the new 11-member board was officially installed.

The new GPOC board consists of Reverend Raphael Massiah as its chairman along with members, Mr. Martin Gaul; Mr. Oscar Clarke; Ms. Maureen Philadelphia; Mr. Leon Dickson; Ms. Nicola Trotman; Mr. Gobin Harbhajan; Ms. Oslyn Armstrong; Mr. Harold Shepherd (representing the Guyana Postal and Telecommunication Workers’ Union (GPTWU)); and Mr. Delon Baird (representing the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU)). Ms. Karen Brown, GPOC’s Postmistress General, is also on the board as an Ex-Officio Member.

The ceremony also saw the presence of Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and Minister of Public Telecommunications and Tourism, Cathy Hughes, who also delivered brief charges to the members.

In her charge, Minister Ferguson noted the “unique challenges” facing the postal service in Guyana. As a former worker within the GPOC, she added that she was a first-hand witness to these challenges.

“Today, the agency faces many challenges due to technological changes and the internet revolution, which has resulted in the growth of e-commerce,” Minister Ferguson said.

Nonetheless, she said that the post office still holds relevance and its facilities, such as the bill payment and money transfer facilities, are still widely used by Guyanese. She therefore urged the new board members to capitalise upon existing infrastructures and improve the corporation’s state of affairs.

She further indicated that while e-commerce has grown, the GPOC can use this growth to its advantage and focus on improving its courier services. She noted the success of other couriers, such as FedEx and the United Parcel Service (UPS).

“We expect that in this digital age for the demand for courier services to grow…People and businesses still require items to be moved efficiently from one place to another,” Minister Ferguson emphasised. She continued, “It is therefore timely for us to reposition the corporation as a key service provider that delivers high quality services to our customers and citizens. Our citizens must see and feel the difference in our operation and approach.”

Minister Ferguson concluded by putting forward a number of tasks to the new board. Among these tasks were to provide strong and effective leadership; develop and implement a strategic turnaround plan to transform the organisation; and create a customer-centric environment to restore customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Fostering connectivity

Similarly, Minister Hughes emphasised the importance of the postal service in Guyana and said that, in many communities, the GPOC creates a link with the rest of Guyana and ultimately the rest of the world. She said the new board has the responsibility to look at the current services and initiatives that have been tried in other parts of the world before looking at Guyana’s needs and seeing how best practices can be incorporated locally.

“We have to look at how we can rebrand and repackage the types of services our post office offers…we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to be committed and look at existing role models and decide what can work best for us,” she said.

Sher further noted that the GPOC now sits under the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and Tourism and she explained that this shift was made due to the role the agency can play in fostering connectivity.

“When we talk about creating increased interconnectivity, increased broadband access, then you can see the kinds of enhanced roles the post office can play as a little ICT [information and communication technologies] hub,” she said. She went on, “All of the businesses and activities that we can provide to the public with the support of ICT, I think the post offices are ideally located to assist in that process.” She added that it is an “exciting time” since the future of the GPOC is being decided now.

In his brief opening remarks, Minister Patterson noted that the new board was a diverse one and he urged its members to be vibrant, creative, and relevant. “A lot depends on your willingness to serve,” he said.

All of the Ministers stressed their willingness to work with the new board to transform the organisation.

Meanwhile, new Chairman, Rev. Massiah, noted the experience, skill, and knowledge present in the board and promised to “combine these resources” to improve the corporation. He added that the new board will have the challenge of “waking up a sleeping giant” but said that it will nonetheless rise to the occasion.