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Indian postal department poised for an overhaul

By Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 16: The world's oldest postal department, India Post is planning to overhaul the Indian Postal Act of 1898 which would entail a number of amendments including setting up a Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund to finance unviable operations in rural and remote areas in the country.

The Department of Posts DoP is expected to soon float a draft amendment Bill to overhaul the more than a century old Act. The Draft would be hosted on the DOP website this week to elicit comments from industry and private players before it is finalised and sent to the Cabinet for approval, postal department sources said.

The draft is also expected to recommend setting up a regulator to monitor its operations and those of the private players in the postal sector. Also, the DOP wants exclusive rights for carrying letters below 500 grams.

The USO fund would be in the lines of the telecom sector where private operators pay a fixed amount of their revenues to the fund used for rural telephony.

On Thursday the government allowed the Department of Posts to invest Rs 10,000 crores from its life insurance scheme in the stock market Secretary, Department of Posts U Srinivasa Ragahavan said the Finance Ministry has allowed the department to keep these funds with special deposits.

''The department must find outside investment opportunities including investment in the stock markets,'' Mr Raghavan said.

The ministry however said that special depository rates on investments in the two schemes of DoP Postal Life Insurance and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) would not be available after September 30, 2006.

The DoP has sought level-playing field from the government to operate its insurance schemes to enable people in urban areas to opt for the schemes considering lower premium and higher bonus.

Mr Raghavan said the Department had appointed global consultant, A F Fergusson, to look into investment option for the schemes and the matter is under examination.

UNI

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