The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), has announced plans to propose a reform bill that would remove it from performing the dual role of an operator and regulator.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami disclosed this at the celebration of the World Post Day in Abuja.
He said as part of the ongoing reforms in NIPOST, three companies have been established. They include; NIPOST Transport and Logistics Company, NIPOST Property Company and NIPOST Microfinance Bank.
He said, “Based on global best practice, operators should be independent from the regulator, but in NIPOST what has been inherited is the same institution regulates and operate. This is contrary to global best practices, hence with the support of our leaders, and the National Assembly, particularly the chairman of our committee, we are working on a NIPOST reform bill which will separate the operator from the regulator so that the regulator will be very objective.
”We are working on drafting the bill when we are done with that, we will approach our leaders in the national assembly to help get the bill ready. Hopefully, in the next one year, we would witness this transformation,” Pantami said.
The Minister while lamenting over the numerous challenges faced by NIPOST promised to ensure the sustainability of the companies established under it.
“Our postal service is on the verge of being transformed. As I came into office, I realized the challenges facing NIPOST were higher than any other parastatal under the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.
“Firstly, because their staff capacity is more than 12, 800 staff, secondly, they exist in each and every local government meaning they have offices in 774 places, thirdly there is no government support when it comes to budget, moreover NIPOST has been made to generate funding itself. Looking at the dilapidated nature of the structures in the country, I realized immediately that we have a lot of challenges to tackle.
“So far two of this company has started and we are in touch with Mr President on how to get the take-off grant to start their activities.”
Pantami speaking on the disagreement between NIPOST and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), over the collection of stamp duty, said that the Minister of Finance had previously endorsed NIPOST to be the collector. However, he vowed to ensure justice on the issue.
“I came to know what happened to stamp duty when the final decision had been taken, the same with the chair Senate committee, she was not aware and she was in the National Assembly. I was outside the country when it happened, though I reached out to the president of the Senate at that time it was absolutely late.
“This bill was initiated by NIPOST, not by any other institution of government, it was taken to National Assembly by NIPOST. At the initial stage, we got the endorsement of the minister of finance supervising the institution, collecting tax and I have a copy of the letter and she officially endorsed NIPOST to collect stamps duties.”
Speaking further, Pantami explained, “But when NIPOST started the process, they collected some money, then other tax collectors came and along the process they went and hijacked the process before the final decision and the name of NIPOST was substituted with another.
“On this, I personally wrote a letter to Mr President over five times and I engaged him three times physically on this. I raised the issue on the federal executive chamber at least four times and I have written a letter to the Minister of Finance at least three times.
“We will continue to fight for the impression. I hate injustice and I don’t tolerate it. I assure you we will fight for you legally until the justice is done,” he assured.