CPU 21st Annual Conference, Castries, Saint Lucia, July 2018

Speech by the UPU Director General, Bishar A. Hussein, at the opening ceremony of the CPU 21st Annual Conference, Castries, Saint Lucia, 9 July 2018

 

The Honourable Allan Chastanet, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Saint Lucia,

His Excellency Ubaldus Raymond, Minister of Finance, Saint Lucia,

Mr. Wayne Smith, Secretary General of the Caribbean Postal Union,

His Excellency Jorge Francisco Soberon, Ambassador of Cuba to Saint Lucia,

Ministers of postal affairs and officials of government from Saint Lucia,

Our colleagues here from Groupe La Poste,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is my great pleasure to address the 21st CPU Annual Conference here in Saint Lucia. Thank you for inviting me here today.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to the Government of Saint Lucia and the Ministry of External Affairs in particular for graciously hosting the UPU’s regional office since 2006. Having resources here in the region is essential to carrying out our regional development plans.

I must also thank the Government of Barbados for hosting the regional training centre in Bridgetown. Since its inception in 2014, we have used the centre to host many train-the-trainer style workshops benefitting hundreds of postal employees.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to all of our postmasters general, who remain committed to the development of the postal sector in the region. The postal industry cannot be improved without you and your dedication does not go unnoticed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Posts are a vessel through which we can deliver accessible communication services, drive socioeconomic development and foster social and financial inclusion for citizens and businesses across the globe. Postal infrastructure can provide valuable support in achieving the UN SDGs, but only if that infrastructure is properly developed.

In 2017 we launched a Regional Development Plan for the Caribbean, with operational readiness for e-commerce identified as the priority for the cycle. Since then, 21 countries have established national project teams, roadmaps and action plans have been drawn up, and two workshops have already been held. A third workshop will be held this December.

The UPU has also appointed a Regional Project Facilitator to provide further assistance to all countries implementing the operational readiness for e-commerce project and plans to designate project facilitators to assist in other domains such as postal reform by the end of this year.

A financial services and financial inclusion workshop will be held within the framework of this very conference. I urge all postmasters general to take full advantage of this workshop, as its outcomes will pave the way for development cooperation actions in 2018 and beyond.

Distinguished colleagues,

It was in Istanbul that our member countries endorsed proposals aimed at building a more efficient and effective UPU. One that is able to react more quickly to changes in the postal environment.

This September we will meet our member countries at an Extraordinary Congress in Ethiopia to continue this work. In Addis Ababa we will deliberate on several issues which are critical to the sustainability of our Union, including:

  • Reform of the Union
  • Reform of the contributions system
  • Sustainability of the UPU’s Provident Scheme;
  • And the implementation of the integrated product plan and its related remuneration structure.

As a UN agency and forum for 192 member countries, the UPU is the key player that can help our sector move ahead. But it can only do so if it itself is functioning to its highest potential. If endorsed, the UPU reform proposal will transform the Union and give members equitable opportunities to make decisions.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

We cannot talk about reform of our working methods without also addressing the funding challenges that put our work at risk. The UPU has been facing a very difficult financial situation for years now.

These problems are fuelled by the inherent weakness of the UPU’s voluntary funding model. The expectations of the UPU set out through its business plan have continued to expand, while the funding level has remained tightly restricted by the zero nominal growth principle.

The impact of this approach has led to severe operational difficulties, and the freezing and abolishment of posts, which in turn has adversely affected the Union’s ability to meet the expectations of members.

We ask that you support the work of the task force that has been studying this matter since May 2017. Please enable it to accomplish its task and strengthen the capacity of the Union to deliver to its members.

Another topic we will discuss in Addis Ababa will be the UPU’s Provident Scheme, which has accumulated a funding deficit over the last several years. The Istanbul Congress decided to establish a task force to study this problem and to propose a solution for stability and long-term sustainability of the fund. I, therefore, wish to request you to support the work of the task force in addressing the matter.

The Congress will also decide on the Integrated Product Plan and its associated remuneration plan, which together will foster the sustainability of the postal network and enable all Posts to take advantage of the e-commerce opportunity.

Dear colleagues,

I will close my remarks there. I wish you all fruitful deliberations this week and I look forward to seeing you in Addis Ababa.

Thank you.