Postal Services to compete on Ezone and Moneygram services

POSTED: 10/19/11 7:02 PM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has confirmed that Postal Services St. Maarten (P.S.S.) will seek to do E-Zone and Moneygram services, making it a competitor with New Post Netherlands Antilles. The latter company, which used to manage the post office in Philipsburg, is currently operating the services as Soualiga Service Point, and “without running ahead of the discussion” Wescot-Williams told parliament on Wednesday that Postal Services St. Maarten wants to do the same.
“St. Maarten has free market principles and yes P.S.S. is also pursuing those contracts. The businesses in St. Maarten have a role to play in this regard and I want to use this public platform to appeal to them to support P.S.S. St. Maarten can and must make it work,” the Prime Minister said.
Later she added, “It would be unthinkable to not take on these third party contracts and I can inform parliament that some of these contracts were affected by the process of constitutional change, because the entities were dealing with one legal entity – the Netherlands Antilles – but now they have to deal with several and so negotiations can start in that regard.”

The announcement that Postal Services St. Maarten will also do e-zone and money gram services is one of the only clear things that the Prime Minister could state. Other questions were met with answers like “we will see” and “the situation is still fluid.” The reason behind that is Postal Services St. Maarten still does not have a finalized business plan. There is a draft business plan with “very global projections” but this is still being revised in order to come to a definite vision of where Postal Services St. Maarten is going in the future.
“The draft business plan is a work in progress and will be framed by the challenges that are also being dealt with internationally,” the prime minster said.
The only other clear statement Wescot-Williams made is that, “It is not the intention of the management, board or shareholder of Postal Service St. Maarten to sign a Service Level Agreement with New Post Netherlands Antilles once the transition agreement signed on October 15 expires on December 31.” All parties want Postal Services St. Maarten to stand on its own after that. At the end of the sitting the Prime Minister told this newspaper that there was no need to worry about finances until the end of the year as New Post Netherlands Antilles has agreed to “fill in” any differences between revenue and expenses until December 31, when Postal Services St. Maarten expects to have implemented several revenue generating projects. The payments made in 2011 will have to be returned in the first six months of 2012.

Another clear statement by the Prime Minister is that Postal Services St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Communication Workers Union will have to start negotiations soon on a new Collective Labor Agreement as the current one – between New Post Netherlands Antilles and the union – expires on December 31, 2011.
The list of things the Prime Minster could not provide parliament includes audited financial accounts and a clear answer on what will happen with “empty spaces” in the Post Office that were once used for certain services that have now moved to Soualiga Service Point.
“Yes there are some vacant areas, but we hope they won’t be empty for long,” the Prime Minister said.
Wescot-Williams also told MPs that she shared their concern about the starting position that Postal Services St. Maarten is in, but she refused to subscribe to a notion from the opposition that the company is doomed to fail, and nothing was gained from signing the recent transition agreement.
“No stone will be left unturned to make P.S.S a viable company. I share the concern of the Members in Parliament because I know the challenges P.S.S will have to catch up and then get ahead of the pack. I do not want to term this as a prescription for failure. At the end of the day we were able to resume service and I now invite parliament to think with us and work with us as we move forward,” the Prime Minister said.
Independent Member of Parliament Frans Richardson is pleased there is a transition agreement and pressed the stakeholders in Postal Services St. Maarten to continue working.
“I now look forward to receiving my mail again,” the MP said.
National Alliance MP Louie Laveist feels some satisfaction that the transition agreement was signed because it brings a level of closure to the recent strike action by the postal workers. His colleague Dr. Lloyd Richardson was less positive and said that Postal Services St. Maarten was starting on “weak footing.”
Speaking under a point of clarification later in the discussion he added, “As a St. Maartener it is a disgusting situation to continually be on the losing end. I think P.S.S should be propped up and our entities should be somewhat protected.”
National Alliance faction leader William Marlin also slammed the transition agreement and said he believes it is a victory for New Post Netherlands Antilles and Soualiga Service Point.
“We’re not sure we can say congratulations and job well done because as I searched the agreement to see where there was a win for the people and government of St. Maarten, but it seems more a win for New Post Netherlands Antilles and Soualiga Service Point,” Marlin said.
United People’s (UP) Party MP Jules James was more upbeat and said, “You’re not starting out on the greatest footing, but I encourage you to be creative and not look to government for subsidies.”
James also urged the Managing Director of Postal Services St. Maarten Denicio Richardson to involve his staff in regular meetings and to “when necessary get in the trenches and rub shoulders with your employees.”

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