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Postal Department to get facelift with higher allocation in Budget

New Delhi

29-June-2019

 The Department of Post can expect to be allocated more funds from the Budget for a facelift that includes improvement of postal operations and promotion of philately, upgrading bureaus, innovative products and processes, opening up of more Postal Savings Banks, 40 lakh ATM cards and digitisation of post offices.

Postal operations, which come under Central Sector Schemes, were allotted a revised Rs 661 crore in 2018-19 Budget and in the interim Budget 2019-20, this was hiked to Rs 773.47 crore. It is likely to be further increased to Rs 1,500 crore while for the India Post Payments Bank, the allocations could be Rs 500 crore from the current Rs 335 crore in the interim Budget, sources said.

The department, which is vital for the country's mail network with its whopping 1.55 lakh post offices serving the important rural but unremunerative areas, while in urban areas, it is fighting for survival from competition from private couriers and digital world where email, money transfer, SMS, and Whatsapp are more fast. It has, however, been alert to meet the challenges through continuous innovation, new products and services at affordable rates and the unsurmountable network of post offices.

There are also plans to open 150 BOs (Branch Post Offices), 1,000 cash safes, training 45,000 officials, upgrading 55 workplace training centres and related activities. 

For the smooth operations of the India Post Payments Bank's 650 branches with 50,000 access points for financial inclusion of un-banked and under-banked people, the likely to be hiked funds will be used for equity infusion for technology induction maintenance and manpower. 

The 120 PO projects - new, old, heritage buildings and related activities for improved customer experience and postal operation - and the estates management allocations could be up under the overall postal operations to Rs 100 crore from the current Rs 85 crore, sources added.

With 'Inclusive India' being the motto of the NDA government, the postal operations are to be expanded and increased, they said. The rising allocations provision is for postal operations, which include major activities such as mail operations, IT Induction and modernisation of post offices in presence and services. 

The funds will be utilised for maintenance of data centres and IT infrastructure for the department - the Financial System Integrator (FSI), the Core System Integrator (CSI), Network Integration (NI) and DARPAN (Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for a New India) Project. 

The Ministry of Communications had launched DARPAN project to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, under its IT Modernisation Plan. The project seeks to increase rural reach of the department and enable BOs to increase traffic of all financial remittances, savings accounts, RPLI policy and cash certificates. 

It also will improve mail operations processes by allowing for automated booking and delivery of of accounts. 

Overall, this project will help to improve quality of service, add value to services and achieve financial inclusion of the un-banked rural population.

The Department of Posts, with its network of 1,54,965 post offices, is the largest postal network in the world. While the core activity of the department is processing, transmission and delivery of mail, there are also a diverse range of retail services undertaken by the department, which include money remittance, banking, as well as insurance. Of late, the Department has undertaken the disbursal of the social benefit payments, such as under the rural job guarantee and social security pension schemes.

To meet the developments and challenges of the new environment where the mail is seeing a decline the world over, the services provided by the Department of Posts are being upgraded, diversified and new services being introduced in consonance with customer expectations. 

The major IT Induction and Modernization Project is currently being implemented in the department with focus on business process re-engineering and improving operational efficiency of the department.

This aims at transforming the Department into a "technology enabled, self-reliant market leader", which will result in increased market share and revenues, launch of new products and services, improved service delivery system, motivated workforce and enhanced customer satisfaction. 

Meanwhile, the Core Banking Solution (CBS) Project is bringing in facilities of ATM banking, Internet Banking and Mobile Banking to Post Offices Savings Bank customers 24x7 along with the facilities of National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).

Under the Digital India Programme, a flagship programme of the government launched in 2014 with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, the Department of Posts has been entrusted to transform the post offices into multi-service centres and is digitizing all the 1,54,965 post offices including 1,29,380 post offices in rural areas. 

The multi-service centre will become the nodal centre for the dissemination of information vis-a-vis government policies, disbursement of social security benefits, and for financial inclusion, while also offering a digital means of communication, carrying physical goods and money transfers. IANS