FG scratches surface as NIPOST suffocates under pressures
Federal government recently said it will carve out three subsidiary companies out of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) with the hopes of turning around the fortunes of the tottering giant.
According to Alex Okoh, director-general, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), three commercial ventures to be carved out of NIPOST as NIPOST Properties and Development Company; NIPOST Transport and Logistics Company; and NIPOST Microfinance bank Limited.
But the move will barely scratch the surface of what NIPOST and indeed the courier industry is facing.
Particularly, NIPOST’s main revenue stream has been usurped by Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which is currently collecting stamp duty for the federal government.
Stamp duty should be collected by NIPOST the way Customs Duty is collected by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
On a larger scale, the courier industry in Nigeria is perhaps the only sector that has witnessed a dangerous influx of quacks.
Operators of courier companies, who are like messengers sent on urgent errands, now ply their trade with impunity no thanks to the absence of checks and balances.
There is nothing like an independent regulatory authority as is the case with the telecommunications or the pharmaceutical sectors of the economy.
Today, many courier companies have sprung up and most of them are believed to engage in questionable business practices.
The growth of the sector is also stunted because it is tied to the apron string of NIPOST, a largely bureaucratic set up still stuck with the old ways of doing business.
The Courier Regulatory Department (CRD) of NIPOST currently registers and regulates the market, a case of the student who set examination questions for himself.
Because, the CRD do not have the necessary legal teeth, the industry has witnessed such dangerous trends as price undercutting; dumping of goods, defrauding of customers and low tariff regimes.
In some cases, some vital documents have been lost in transit and there is no one to hold accountable.
The only way to avoid the recurring problems in the industry is the immediate set up of an independent regulator for the courier industry.
Courier operators also agree that a neutral courier regulatory body outside of NIPOST is best for the industry because NIPOST would not be a fair umpire in the courier industry, where it also operates as a courier operator under EMS Nigeria, which is the courier arm of NIPOST.
Their fear was that CRD would not be fair in its regulatory duties since the NIPOST EMS was competing with them in the same courier business.