ADDRESS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
OPENING OF 18TH ANNUAL CARIBBEAN POSTAL UNION CONFERENCE
SEPTEMBER 14, 2015
MARIA’S BY THE SEA HOTEL
Good morning friends, and welcome to the British Virgin Islands.
First I would like to acknowledge the presence of:
The Speaker of the House of Assembly of the BVI, Honourable Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe
Member for the Fifth District, Honourable Delores Christopher
Caribbean Postal Union Secretary General, Mr. Reynold Baldeosingh
Postmaster General, Miss Pascha Stoutt
I am delighted that we are able to host this year’s Caribbean Postal Union Conference, and be the venue at which the future of the Postal Service in the Caribbean region, can be discussed and planned.
Indeed the issues that we are faced with are varied and critical, but we should ensure that the network of administration throughout the region and globally, not only exists into the foreseeable future, but is efficient and able to compete with other services that have been able to capitalise on the more profitable sectors of postal activities.
Postal administrations are essential, they provide a link between nations across borders at the most effective rates possible, act as facilitators for intra and international trade, and in this modern fast paced environment provide business services to the farthest corners of the world.
Despite the fact that there are advanced telecommunications systems in the more advanced territories and nations of the world, post has remained relevant. However in this environment we must retool ourselves, so that not only will the vulnerable in our society be serviced, but that through the technological advances that are available to us, we can provide the type of logistical services that only a network as expansive and interconnected as the global postal network; headed by the Universal Postal Union can provide.
Several challenges face the Post today.
One of these challenges is the harnessing of electronic systems to facilitate express mail. In the BVI we are currently in the position to take advantage of the electronic tracking software in the form of IPS and PRIME a customer service software package that allows us to maintain a high level of service to our customers by tracking express mail and keeping track of parcels and registered mail.
In this era there is also the threat of heightened global terrorism and we must recognise that Postal Administrations have deeply relevant roles to play in national security, as we serve as an avenue through which goods are moved across borders.
In the BVI we have taken a proactive stance to ensure that the integrity of the Post Office’s mandate is not compromised, and that we are not being used to facilitate the movement of controlled and illegal substances or firearms, ammunition and explosives into, and through the British Virgin Islands.
We have moved significantly in this regard, and in the coming months and years will continue to do so. I urge all my colleagues today to continue on this track, and where you have not to invest significant effort in doing so.
Pursuant to this very real issue of security, we also recognise the need for postal administrations to forge strong alliances with the border control agencies in our territories, in order that the rim of security around our borders could be ever easier to manage and control. In the BVI for example, we are intent at developing a closer and mutually respectful relationship with our Customs and Police agencies to achieve just that.
In addition to enhanced security measures, we must ensure that our officers are trained to the highest levels possible in all areas of postal activity. We, for example, see the need for basic or even advanced training in business, accounting and logistics.
In this regard we are very much pleased with the work of the Caribbean Postal Training Centre.
The BVI has benefitted from this center and we will continue to send our postal officers there for training. It is my hope that the training in this center will remain relevant and at the cutting edge of what is needed and required by postal administrations in the present and into the future.
Finally, I continue to be concerned with the challenges we face in the transportation of mail. This is perhaps the weakest part of our logistical network, since we do not own the means of transport, yet we must confirm to exacting service delivery standards that depend on this transportation.
My hope is that the air and sea carriers of the day can be sensitised to the basic commitment by nations across the world to provide individuals with at least basic postal service, and that their sense of corporate responsibility will prevail and the transportation of mail at minimal cost to postal administrations will become a fundamental part of their business models.
In closing I would like to again welcome you to the BVI, invite you to visit the many interesting and I dare say spectacular places we have on this the main island of Tortola and our sister islands across the waters.
I hope also that this conference will bring much progress through lively and frank discussions, and that on leaving the BVI we will have crystallised ideas and positions for consideration at the next Universal Postal Union Conference in Turkey in 2016.