The Bermuda Post Office will see a substantial hike in revenues under a new system for calculating paybacks for handling bulky letters and packages, according to Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.
The changes agreed by the Universal Postal Union, a global authority with 192 members managed by the United Nations, are expected to bring an extra $167,800 to the BPO next year — an increase of almost half.
The 2021 revenues are forecast to rise by $72,123, Mr Furbert told the House of Assembly on Friday. Mr Furbert said he had attended the UPU’s third extraordinary congress in Switzerland in September.
He told MPs the meeting had been “swiftly arranged” for a vote on proposals in the wake of plans by the United States to leave the UPU and charge its own rates.
Mr Furbert said postal remunerations, known as terminal dues, were in place to compensate countries for the cost of handling, transporting and delivering bulky letters and small packets across borders.
Member countries agreed on rates at the 2016 congress, but Mr Furbert said the US had “consistently voiced displeasure with this new system”, which restricted its charges for handling imported parcels.
The US called for countries to be able to set their own rates, but also supported a compromise in which the system would be gradually changed.
Three options went before the congress: option A, proposed by the UPU, with all members except the least developed countries paying the same rates in 2020. Under option B, supported by the US, all countries could set their own terminal dues, up to a maximum of 100 per cent of the domestic postal tariff.
Option C would permit countries leeway to set their own dues, subject to caps, over a five-year period.
Mr Furbert said Britain had two votes at the September meetings: one for itself and one for the Overseas Territories, including Bermuda. While Britain supported option A, Mr Furbert said option B offered the best benefits for Bermuda.
He added: “I have asked the Foreign Office to look into how OTs could cast their own votes, since Bermuda pays approximately $80,000 annually to be a member of the UPU.”
After option B was voted down, Mr Furbert said “gruelling” negotiations ultimately settled on a new option.
Under the new proposal, qualifying countries would be able to set their dues at 70 per cent of their tariff rates, with an annual increment of 1 per cent, up to a limit of 80 per cent.
The arrangement would permit qualifying members to set their own rates from July 2020.