‘Budget allocation a boost to postal dept’s financial inclusion goals’
The Budget provisions and allocation will strengthen the postal department’s financial inclusion goals and help bring in banking industry best practices for customers, particularly those in rural areas, Department of Posts Secretary Vineet Pandey has said.
According to Budget announcements, in 2022, all 1.5 lakh post offices will come on the ‘core banking system’ enabling financial inclusion and access to accounts through net banking, mobile banking, ATMs, and also provide online transfer of funds between post office accounts and bank accounts. This will be helpful, especially for farmers and senior citizens in rural areas as it will enable interoperability, and bring crores of post office deposit accounts into mainstream banking and payments system.
Further, as per Budget announcements, Railways will develop new products and efficient logistics services for small farmers and small and medium enterprises, besides taking the lead in integration of postal and railways networks to provide seamless solutions for movement of parcels.
Overall, the gross budgetary support for Department of Posts has been pegged at Rs 36,395.89 crore for 2022-23, against Rs 35,173.27 crore in fiscal 2021-22 (budget estimates). For 2022-23, the net budgetary support stands at Rs 20,820 crore, against Rs 16,528.22 crore in 2021-22 (budget estimates).
“Majority of our beneficiaries or our customers are in Tier 2/3 rural areas, particularly women, farmers, artisans, senior citizens…now the time has come for all the benefits which are the common industry best practices, the banking industry best practices, available to others…should be available to post office customers, also,” Pandey told PTI.
The Department of Posts currently provides a wide array of services such as mail and parcel services; post office savings schemes; money order and Indian postal order; Postal Life Insurance and Rural Postal Life Insurance.
Its other services include Post Office Passport Seva Kendra, Aadhaar enrolments and updation facility, railway passenger reservations facility, common service centre, utility bills payment, among others.
Observing that expectation from post office is now “much beyond” its traditional role, Pandey said that the Postal Department is proactively leveraging its digital and vast physical network, building on the age-old “trust factor” to make its offering and services more responsive to its customers.
“And that is what this Budget aims for this year, it provides us a context and background to take these objectives forward and include all kinds of services possible. When you say financial inclusion, apart from the post office savings agency function, it could be insurance also, it could be other things, DBT transfers…,” he said.
The Department of Posts is evolving itself into a “one stop shop” for variety of financial services.
“Accordingly, the finance ministry has also been very encouraging in the sense they have a very supportive allocation…IT project which we still will be continuing in a big way going forward, alongwith operations that we have to focus on…so in totality, I see a major role as far as reaching out to people through post offices, is concerned,” he said.
For Postal Department, the revenue earned from its various services stood at about Rs 11,566.37 crore in 2020-21, as against Rs 14,326.60 crore in the previous fiscal.
Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha recently had said that “a revenue target of Rs 14,213.34 crore has been set for Department of Posts for the current financial year, that is, 2021-22.”
The Department is committed to providing better customer services by leveraging technology, and more than 1.29 lakh branch post offices in the rural areas have been provided with handheld Point of Sale devices for providing mail, parcel and banking services.
“A robust technological platform has also been provided in all the departmental post offices and mail offices for booking, processing and delivery of the mail and parcels. Further, Department is also using postman mobile application to provide real time delivery update to the customers,” Chauhan had said.
The Department also facilitates the customers through SMS alerts regarding status of articles.
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