Pierrakakis briefs Parliament on strategic plans for Hellenic Post Offices

An amendment bringing the Hellenic Post Offices (ELTA) up to speed with current practices internationally to focus on parcel post services is being tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, with debate and voting scheduled for Wednesday’s plenary session.

Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis briefed the Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee about the amendment, which is appended to a draft bill on fighting illegal trade. He presented the plan as transforming ELTA to a universal provider with a competitive profile, and cited the example of Denmark which inspired the Greek plans and which was adopted by Ireland and Norway.

The main issue is to streamline the post office’s finances, he said. “A few months ago, ELTA had a monthly deficit of 7.2 million euros, which its directors have managed to limit to 4.7 million euros a month. Wage expenditure is currently 67 percent of the entire organization, something that must obviously change. In addition, the company’s digital transformation has not moved forward and this does not allow the company – especially after the rise in courier traffic – to create economies of scale,” Pierrakakis aid.

Some of the changes envisioned are changing, as of the new year, the speed of delivery of letters from X+1 (where X represents day posted) to X+3, suggested by the National Telecommunications and Post Offices Commission. “This will i╬╝prove issues related to universal service,” the minister said, as would an upgrade of the current software from Windows XP.

“The leading factor is the Finance Ministry’s increase of the share capital, which willl total 100 million euros,” and inviting the single private shareholder (Eurobank, 10 pct) to contribute to the increase of share capital he noted, although he said the issue was not included in the draft amendment.

Overall, the minister said, the amendment is only part of a general plan that includes ELTA being reimbursed by the government for services (2013-2020); new policies of hiring new staff and of procurements; and a plan for voluntary retirement directed to 2,000 staff (out of a permanent staff of 5,500), to be completed in two years.

Opposition parties protested the speed at which the amendment was introduced, “at the last minute” and “without public consultation,” and expressed concern about the continuation of the organization as a public utility.

“The amendment isn’t last minute,” Pierrakakis said, “it’s ELTA which is last minute. […] Other countries tranformed their postal services five, ten or fifteen years ago.” The government supports the post office’s continued existence as an organization, he said.