Postal Service staffing ‘being looked at very carefully’ SAGE Commission member
Lawyer Kim White confirmed that Bermuda’s Postal Service is being looked at closely as one of the ways to reduce Government expenditure.
Mr White made the disclosure on Tuesday night at the first public meeting hosted by the SAGE Commission at St James Church Hall to gauge views on how to reduce costs.
He was responding to a question posed by resident Hilda Young who wanted to know “if anyone was looking into ways to cut down on overstaffing at the Post Office”.
Said Ms Young: “My mail in my box is very slight and I’m wondering what the possibility is of cutting that.”
Mr White responded: “The Post Office is certainly being looked at very carefully. You’re right, your mail is getting less and less and we’re moving towards a paperless society.
“The Post Office is losing over a million pieces of mail on delivery each year and has done so for the last ten years. So the reduction of total mail delivered is significant and also you can appreciate that they have lost a great deal of parcel post to DHL, FedEx and others.
“It is currently being looked at and it is currently losing between $10 and $12 million a year and that is something that we’re looking at — how we can do the things we need to do because we
do have an obligation to provide access to communication.
“But there are many ways of doing that, in the US they tried to go to a five day work week but there wasn’t the political will to do that even though there are ways to do it.”
Chairman Brian Duperrault said it was a revenue issue and that her request will be passed on to the relevant Government representatives.
Another resident wanted to know how much money would be saved in a year, if Government cut the jobs of 30 employees. The answer given was that considering the average salary within the civil service, it would be $2 million.
Sandys resident Keith Godfrey proposed a national lottery like the one in the US with Powerball.
“They raised $600 million and the winner got $377 million, my suggestion would be for Government to have a global lottery and take 15 percent off the top. I think you would balance the budget and reduce debt very quickly,” he said.
Mr Duperrault noted that too was a revenue suggestion that would be passed on for consideration.
He stated at the start of the meeting that the world economy is in a very serious situation and that it’s time to act.
“If we look at this debt that we have it’s like $50,000 per person for every worker in Bermuda and it’s growing by about $10,000 per person every year — we can’t sustain that.
“We’re not going to do it right away so what we’ve really done is incurred all of this debt for our children and our children’s children which is a terrible legacy,” said Mr Duperrault.
The commission has until October 1 to give recommendations to Government on how to cut costs.
Said Mr Duperreault : “We’re really looking at the Government’s costs and how can we get the best Government that we can muster and how can we get the best Government that we can afford.
“That’s where we are today, we formed four committees, we’re in a fact gathering phase right now and we hope you’ve come with some ideas.
“We’d like to hear from you, we are recording this so we get all of this right.”
Lawyer Michelle St Jane questioned the “business as usual approach” when Bermuda is failing socially in her view.
“I’m wondering if anyone else is noticing that business as usual and getting us jobs may not do the trick.
“Having grown up in New Zealand where privatisation was an unmitigated disaster, I’m wondering why we’re not considering making our human residents shareholders of what we might be privatising as opposed to only a few making money off our essential services.
“I’m also wondering why with one of the leading stock exchanges in the world why we’re not considering a social tax on the stock exchange,” she said.
After the meeting a spokeswoman for the commission said they were “very pleased” with the turn out and the questions asked.
“The meeting was a good start to a conversation with the public about how to create a more modern, efficient and accountable Government.
“It was clear we need to help the public understand who is serving on the Commission and its committees. There are almost 50 people involved, representing a broad cross section of the community,” she said.
“We also need to make sure the focus of the commission’s work is clear. It’s mandate is to look for areas where cost savings can be realised.
“While this may be interpreted as only a bottom line exercise, the commission and committee members recognise how important it is to get the balance of reducing costs and still meet the social needs of the community.
“The commissioners were very pleased with candid and forthright input they received and hope even more members of the community come to the meeting on Tuesday May 28 at Penno’s Wharf and Thursday May 30 at Mount Saint Agnes Academy Auditorium.”
She noted that the venue for the third meeting was changed from Peace Lutheran Church to Mount St Agnes Academy, which is a larger space to accommodate what is expected to be a relatively large audience.