SA Post Office ‘making gradual progress’

The SA Post Office (Sapo) is making gradual progress and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it remains long, CEO Mark Barnes said on Tuesday, ahead of a briefing to Parliament’s portfolio committee on telecommunications and postal services.

The committee received presentations on the first quarter performance of all the state owned entities falling under the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

Barnes said confidence was slowly being built up within the Post Office and that the first quarter results did not truly reflect its current situation as it only received a R650-million cash injection from the government towards the end of the first three month period.

In the first quarter, a net loss of R259-million was recorded, a R26-million improvement on the same period in the previous year.

Overall revenue of R1,2bn was 79% of budget and was 5% (R62m) lower than the same period in the previous year.

Operating expenditure of R1.4bn was R298m below budget and 7% (R110m) lower than the same period in the previous year.

Revenue was negatively affected by poor service levels due to non-payment of suppliers. The closure of some retail branches also had an effect.

Creditors reduced from R899-million in March to R729-million in June and trade vendors from R382-million to R200-million.

A critical goal, Barnes told the committee, was to settle outstanding creditors so that Sapo operations could function normally. It was also critical to fast-track the appointment of key executives.

The committee heard that the Reserve Bank has approved Sapo’s first level application for a banking licence for Postbank. The Post Office had also signed a joint agreement with recognised trade unions to settle wages and conditions of employment up to the period ending 2016/17.

Sapo had also secured a three year loan facility of R3,7-billionn from major financial institutions such as Standard Bank, consolidating its existing facilities of R1-billion.

“These funds will be prioritised for the settlement of historical labour matters, (to) pay the long outstanding creditor backlogs, as well as fund critical projects to support the corporate plan,” Barnes says.

By Linda Ensor for

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