Monday, September 14, 2009

Department of Posts to join Eurogiro by October

Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja on Sunday announced that the Department of Posts would join Eurogiro, a global network of banks and financial institutions, in October. This will enable direct money remittances through post offices.

Mr. Raja disclosed this at a function held at the Automatic Mail Processing Centre in Meenambakkam to mark the flagging off of three dedicated India Post freighter aircraft. Preliminary works on the Eurogiro project were completed and once the software testing was over, the project would be inaugurated in Chennai next month.
Once put in place, it would enable people to send money to their relatives and friends all over the world through electronic transfer in just one hour.

Pointing out that the department was among the few in the country that maintained its identity because it constantly re-invented and experimented, Mr. Raja said that the department was serving people through 1.5 lakh post offices in six lakh villages across the country.
Mr. Raja said the Ministry was planning to computerise all the post offices and had constituted a panel of experts to find out if they could be made Information Technology-enabled. The Prime Minister had given his nod for the project.

The committee was expected to submit its report in a couple of months, he said.
Modernisation of Automatic Mail Processing Centres in New Delhi and Kolkata at a cost of Rs. 65 crore would begin next month and would be completed in one year, he said.

On the India Post Freighter project, Mr. Raja said the Ministry had invested Rs. 511 crore in it over five years. The project would ensure faster delivery of mail and parcels to different parts of the country. It was first launched about three years ago to improve delivery of mails to the northeastern States, Mr. Raja recalled.

Sachin Pilot, Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, said freighter aircraft were introduced to cover the northeastern States to ensure swift delivery of mail, including speed post, logistic post, perishable goods like flowers and fruits, between Kolkata and Agartala. Buoyed by its success, the Ministry had now chartered two more aircraft from Air India to extend the link between New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, with Nagpur as the hub.

Mr. Pilot recalled that the department had relied on commercial airlines earlier, but it became difficult to ensure service quality due to lack of direct control. He recalled that night air mail service was introduced in 1949 by Communications Minister Rafi Ahmed Kidwai.

Radhika Doraiswamy, Secretary, Department of Posts, said each of the Boeing 737-200 aircraft could transport about 14 tonnes of mail.

The three aircraft would land at Nagpur for exchange of pallets (mail parcels), and would leave for their respective destinations one hour later.

She said IT major Accenture was the technology consultant for the Department. The Centre would earmark Rs. 2,000 crore for modernisation and computerisation of post offices, she added.

Mr. Raja also released a special cover with the special cancellation of the new freighter aircraft. The first copy was received by Mr. Pilot.

Manjula Prasher, Member, Operations, and S.K. Chakrabarti, Chief Post Master General, Tamil Nadu Circle, spoke.

1. Postal dept, 5-6 more banks to distribute New Pension System

6 Sep 2009, 1208 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: To distribute the nascent New Pension System on a larger scale, interim pension regulator PFRDA is likely to rope in the postal department and five to six more banks, including PNB and Standard Chartered Bank for collecting contributions of subscribers.

"In a month or so, the names of 5-6 banks, including Punjab National Bank, Vijaya Bank, Syndicate bank, Standard Chartered Bank and the postal department are likely to be notified as Points of Presence," a Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) official told PTI.

The official further said the postal department has shown interest in joining the NPS as a PoP and the PFRDA is having discussions with them. The request from these banks has also come.

PoPs are contact and collection points for customers wanting to be part of NPS.

Currently, there are 21 NPS PoPs which include, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Axis Bank and Union Bank of India.
Despite being launched four months ago, NPS has not made much headway.

Its distribution received a big blow after the country's largest insurer, Life Insurance Corp (LIC), ceased to be a PoP in May following a directive from the sectoral regulator IRDA.

"No insurance company can act as a PoP," the IRDA circular had said.

Recently, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Managing Director A K Dasgupta told PTI, "we have completely suspended operations (of NPS) and returned all the remittances we have received. No further developments at this stage."

PFRDA is believed to be unhappy with the distribution activities carried out by PoPs and had met them last week asking them to get their act right.

"We have asked them to come out with concrete plans in a month as to how they would expand their business," a PFRDA official said.

(Source : UNI News)