Caribbean Council of Ministers Meeting

Speech by UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein, Bridgetown, Barbados, July 1 2016


Distinguished Participants,

I am delighted for this opportunity to participate in this council of ministers summit. I am grateful for the invitation and the good hospitality that my delegation and I have received in Barbados.

In the past four days we have participated in a very successful meeting, where together with members of Caribbean Postal Union we discussed important topics to prepare for quality participation in the forthcoming Congress.

Your level of preparedness as a sub-region is very impressive and we look forward to very fruitful deliberations in Istanbul. I am also glad that we have received very positive indication that some of the members who may not be up-to-date with their financial contributions to the Union are making arrangement to regularize their commitments before the Congress begins. This is very commendable because the Congress makes key decisions that impact members’ postal business and it is only fair when all can be involved in the decision making.

Your Excellencies, the Congress is a meeting of plenipotentiaries and I wish to welcome all of you to be present in Istanbul for this meeting. As you may be aware, during the Congress we have organized a dedicated session for ministers, where you will have an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from some of the best experiences from different parts of the world. The confirmations for participation from this region are still very low and I would like appeal to you to sign up and participate in the forum.

As you are aware, the UPU has been working very closely with members from this sub-region in coordination with CPU to address the development of the Post. I am glad that from the report of your last meeting in the British Virgin Islands, governments in the region have recognized the important role of the Post in national development of countries, especially through its role of inclusion of all citizens regardless of their economic standing.

I appreciate your dedication as governments in focusing on making postal services not only more accessible through the use of Universal Service Obligations, but also modernizing them through the adoption of new technologies as an area of emphasis. This is very much in line with UPU’s vision for the future. We look forward to working together to achieve the intended goal.

Your Excellencies, within the current cycle, UPU has rolled out 40 projects in the Caribbean through our technical assistance programme, which has benefited majority of the countries that you represent here.

One of our most successful projects in the region is the Caribbean Postal Training Centre (CPTC). Within a very short period since its establishment, the institution has been able to offer training assistance to 339 postal officials in various important topics. Of these UPU has given fellowship for training to a total of 197 participants. This is in addition to providing facilitators to some of the courses.

We have two other training sessions that have been programed for next month with a total of 38 participants, majority of them on UPU fellowship.

I wish to thank some of our key partners who have collaborated with us in the project so far. I wish to thank Swiss Post, La Poste France, United States Postal Services, Barbados Postal Services and CPU for their support.

The institution has offered very topical courses in postal business, including customs, transportation, sustainable development, domestic operation, and e-commerce. Other courses that have so far been provided at the institution are, IPS.Post, disaster and risk management, Quality of Service Fund, and postal reform. During the period we also held a symposium and workshop on EMS.

We are in the process of establishing a curriculum committee for the college to roll out more relevant courses. Some of the courses that have already been identified to be offered in the near future are governance and principles, terminal dues and postal products.

At the UPU, we do recognize the special circumstances of this region that is largely composed of island countries that face major challenges in transportation and are also prone to natural calamities arising from climate change.

For this reason UPU is focusing on offering capacity on disaster preparedness, management and awareness that will include providing member countries with tools and a platform for exchange of best practices. We believe this is crucial intervention that assures continuity of business in case of disruption by any form of disaster.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have noted with satisfaction the focus that you adopted for the region from your last Council meeting in the British Virgin Islands last year. Your priority that is underlined by development of postal business driven by modern technology and innovation is quite in line with the UPU’s focus in the forthcoming Istanbul Postal Strategy. We will be glad to work together to achieve this goal.

Your Excellencies,

As we prepare for the forthcoming Congress in a few months’ time, I am happy to inform you that we have so far implemented up to 98 per cent of the decisions, resolutions and recommendations handed to the UPU councils and the IB from the last Congress.

I am equally delighted to inform you that we have developed a comprehensive vision, strategy, and goals package to guide our future work.  We have also come up with projects, priority areas, business plan and a new organization structure that will deliver the UPU to the future.

All these proposals were approved and adopted by the last CA session in February. The proposals will be submitted to the Istanbul Congress for further deliberation and decision.

Within the cycle we have also been addressing key areas of reform of various organs of the Union. On 1st April 2016 we adopted new staff regulations that had been passed by the CA decision. IB staff regulations had not been updated for more than four decades and they were stifling innovation and flexibility in delivery of work by the international secretariat. With the new rules, we will now be focusing on performance-based management to create more efficiency. Our employment policies have also been reviewed to encourage bringing about an international face in terms of placement of staff at the IB.

Together with these reforms in the IB is the broad proposed reform of the Union itself.

As you are aware reform of the UPU has been a topic of great interest and importance on our agenda since Seoul Congress in 1994. We have desired this change to enable us best cope with the changing situations of our industry. Unfortunately, change is a difficult subject and people always find reason to postpone its implementation. Everyone wants to see change but not many are prepared to change.

I am glad members have now taken courage and moved forward with the reform proposal that is aimed at transforming our industry to respond to changing landscape in business.

The last CA approved a comprehensive reform of the Union agenda that will be presented to congress. I have been holding bilateral discussions with members present here to fully explain to them what the proposed reforms are all about. I am optimistic that members in this region will support the adoption of the reform proposal at the Congress in Istanbul.

We have the best opportunity in many years to make our union more efficient, relevant and responsive to not only to the needs of members but also those of the market. To remain relevant, the postal business must be reformed. This is a position all members are agreed on.

Finally, your Excellencies, I would like to draw your attention to fact that the Union continues to face great financial risks that impinge on our capacity to plan for projects.

The regular contribution from UPU member countries is the major source of funding for the Union’s work. This is based on contribution class chosen by member states. Today, countries voluntarily choose their contribution class and they can raise or lower them at will during every Congress cycle.

We have faced uncertainty when members keep on reducing the level of contributions at a time when we require more resources to help develop postal business in many parts of the membership. Already during the current cycle, the union lost 13 contributory units after Doha Congress. This affected our work as we were forced to scale down projects and even staff at the International Bureau.

In my view, we need a more sustainable mechanism of funding that guarantees continuity of the Union’s work and mandate.

Your Excellencies ministers, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, with those remarks, I wish to thank you very much for according me an opportunity to address you.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you