By Musa Adamu and Musa Adamu
The very day President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the National Assembly for amendments of the Finance Act, Post Master General of the Federation, Ismail Adebayo Adewusi cried out that the Act is crippling Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) financially.
The Post Master General (PMG) who raised the alarm Tuesday when members of the Senate Committee on Communications visited the National Headquarters of the postal agency in Abuja, also lamented that non release of N40billion estimated for transforming of its services from analogue to digital since 2005, made it remained backward in postal services.
According to him, the Finance Act 2020 predicated on Finance Bill 2019 passed by both Chambers of the National Assembly has an injurious provision against NIPOST operations in terms of revenue generation.
“Specifically the Act in one of its provisions, removed the legal mandate of NIPOST on stamp creation, which further worsened the interagency rivalry that had been existing between NIPOST and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on stamp duties collection.
‘While billions of Naira as revenues from Stamp Duties have been lying idle with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the controversy of right of ownership between NIPOST and FIRS, the incapacitation of the Agency from creating Stamps, has further worsened its financial status.
“This is even as the Federal Government since 1998, stopped funding the agency as far as capital budget is concerned.
“The agency in the light of these overwhelming challenges, appeal to the Senate Committee on Communications to come to its rescue by amending provisions of the Financial Act incapacitating it from carrying out its traditional mandate of stamp creation with attendant crippling, financially.
He also appealed to the Senators to help fast track re-consideration and possible passage of the Postal Reform Bill which he said, will help in bringing about required transformations of the agency.
He however assured the Senators that despite the daunting challenges affecting its operations, efforts are already been made to reposition it digitally.
“In doing this, the agency will soon be unbundled into subsidiary companies in the mode of Property Development and Logistics and Transport Company”, he said.
But members of the Committee led by their chairman, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, in their responses, tasked the Post Master General to think out of the box in confronting the challenges.
Tinubu in particular said “though the issue of Finance Act will be looked into by way of amendments since laws are not cast in stones but other challenges should be confronted within by thinking out of the box.
“We are impressed with the move already being made in unbundling the agency into subsidiary companies that will go into e – commerce, banking, internet post etc, which are the trend globally.
“We are very much ready to support you on this wonderful initiatives with required legislations”, she said.
The Committee had before visiting NIPOST headquarters, branched at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Maitama Abuja, where submissions made by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof Umar Dambata, were more of achievements than lamentations his counterpart in NIPOST made.