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Postal Act amendment: Small couriers fear extinction

Written by: Staff
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Kochi, May 10 (UNI) With the Union Government planning an amendment to the Indian Postal Act 1898 to protect the postal Department, the courier agencies oppose the Bill, foreseeing 70 per cent drop in business and fearing extinction of small players.

We are not against the proposed regulatory body to control the courier agencies. But the move to reserve exclusive rights with the Postal Department for carrying documents weighing below 300 gms will virtually leave us jobless and into doldrums,'' Kerala Couriers Association president Suresh Bharathan told a press conference here today.

The courier business in the country is anything between Rs 3,500 crore and Rs 5,000 crore and it employed about 10 lakh people directly. There are close to five lakh courier boys alone, according to the association statistics.

The documents weighing below 300 gms constitute about 80 per cent of our business. Taking away the right to carry them will root out the very existence of most of the agencies,'' he said.

The moves to take away the cream of business on the one hand and impose heavy tariff by way of registration fee and annual renewal fee on the other hand lacked any logic and was undemocratic in the era of globalisation, Association general secretary P Unnikrishnan Nair said.

About Rs 500 crore was being already paid as service tax by the courier agencies to the government. In Kerala alone, majority of the odd 100 players were small agencies and together give employment to 60,000 with a turnover of Rs 300 crore.

According to the draft Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill 2006, registration for all companies would be mandatory. Medium size agencies operating within the country have to pay Rs 25,000 for registration and annual renewal fee of Rs 10,000.

The large-scale operators with international business would have to pay Rs 10 lakh for registration and annual renewal fee of Rs 5 lakh.

Besides, the courier companies with annual turnover of Rs 25 lakh have to pay 10 per cent universal service obligation fee. Formation of an independent mail regulatory and development authority was also envisaged in the bill.

The Association leaders said they had expressed their apprehensions on the issue and submitted memoranda and suggestions about the Bill and would now seek the help of the members of the Parliament to ensure status quo.

We want a level-playing field, cooperation and constructive competition with the Postal department. Otherwise, it is going to jeopardise the entire sector, depriving lakhs of people of their jobs,'' the leaders added.

UNI JA DK1500

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