Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday asked the Directorate of Posts to take prompt measures to exploit maximum benefits of the online business as it becomes more popular with the passage of time.
"As the popularity of online selling and purchasing has been rising, the Directorate of Posts cannot lag behind. It has to take more prompt measures. This will be a big business for it," she said while inaugurating the newly built 14-storey Dak Bhaban, the administrative headquarters of the Directorate Posts at Agargaon here.
Joining virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence, the Prime Minister also called for timely initiatives to adopt modern technology aimed at reaching the postal services to the grassroots.
She asked the postal directorate to take a project to introduce cooling or freezing system at the upazila and union level post offices so that the perishable goods such as foods and fruits can be transported from one place to another maintaining their freshness which can attract online business in a more efficient way.
Sheikh Hasina said that her government has purchased 118 vehicles for the Directorate oof Posts to make its transportation system more robust, adding that it would not be enough to purchase cars as it also requires cooling warehouses to preserve the postal goods those include perishable items.
The Prime Minister said that they are building 14 ultra-modern mail processing and logistic service centres with chilling chambers which are about to complete.
She said that her government has taken measures to build 38 consumer-friendly model post offices having the facility of ultra-modern mail processing and logistic service with chilling chambers at the district and divisional cities.
The premier said that they will establish such model post offices across the country in phases, adding, "We, in this way, want to reach the postal services to the grassroots. You (employees of the Postal Directorate) have to take the initiative to this end."
She said that her government has signed bilateral agreements with different countries and the process is on to sign agreements t with more countries under the framework of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) so that the expatriates can easily send their hard-earned money at lower cost and in a legal way.
The Prime Minister hoped that the Dak Bhaban would bring dynamism in the work of the Directorate of Posts.
She also released memorial postal stamps, marking the grand opening of the Bhaban.
Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar also spoke on the occasion while Secretary of Posts and Telecommunications Division Md Afzal Hossain gave the welcome address at the opening ceremony from the Dak Bhaban, Agargaon in the city.
State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Posts, Telecommunications and IT Ministry AKM Rahmatullah, among others, were present at the Dak Bhaban.
PM's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the function while PMO (Prime Minister's Office) Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah was present, among others, at the Ganabhaban end.
An audio-visual presentation was made on the development of the Directorate of Posts.
In 2014, the ECNEC (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council) approved the proposal of constructing the Dak Bhaban on 75 decimals of land of the Directorate of Posts. The agency so far had been housed at a shared congested space at the three-storey General Post Office in Gulishtan.
Apart from having Bangabandhu Corner and Liberation War Corner, the complex has a daycare centre, a hall room with the capacity of accommodating 200 people, a cafeteria and a library.
The remaining 11 floors will have rooms for the directorate general, directors and their staff while mobile banking services, call centers and central servers will be housed on the 13th floor.
Two basements having 150 feet height with car parking capacities have also been built in the establishment.
A portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been set up at the entrance of the complex that has two letter-box shaped sentry sheds.
Sculptor Mrinal Haque has created an artificial fountain at the center of the courtyard. Mrinal has also created 12 murals of commemorative stamps portraying the Father of the Nation, four national leaders, seven martyred war heroes and the Liberation War of 1971.
Sheikh Hasina said that her government has digitalized 8,500 post offices across the country under the post-e-centre project in 2018 from which the countrymen are getting basic training on computer and services of modern technologies, including internet browsing, filling of forms of different exams on online and video conferencing at home and abroad.
The Prime Minister said that the people are getting the same services from 5227 digital centres set up across the country well before making the post offices digital.
She said that the construction of eight 20-storey buildings having 608 flats at Motijheel in the capital is almost completed which will address the accommodation problem of the employees of the Directorate of Posts.
She said her government has increased the salary of the extra-departmental sub-postmaster, extra-departmental agent, extra-departmental delivery agent and extra-departmental mail carrier to Taka 5,841, Tk 4,460, Tk 4,354 and Tk 4,177 in 2018 respectively from Tk 1,650, 1,260, 1,230 and 1,180 in 2013.
The premier, however, said that the money is not enough in the present context and called upon the Directorate of Posts to arrange more money for them from its own profit as the government would definitely do its part.
She added that after assuming office in 2009, her government enacted Post Office (Amendment) Act, 2010 upon making necessary amendments to the act of 1978 and is providing digital postal services such as electronic money transfer, postal call centre, e-commerce, mobile money order and postal cash card since 2010.
The Prime Minister said the Directorate of Posts had started its formal journey on December 20 in 1971 in an independent country.
A set of eight postal stamps designed by Biman Mallik under the supervision of the expatriate government was published from London which made Bangladesh familiar during the Liberation War in 1971, she said.
In this connection, the Prime Minister recalled the contribution of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the development of the postal service, saying that Bangabandhu rebuilt and reformed the war ravaged post offices and purchased vehicles and necessary counter service equipment, mainly to quicken the postal services and built residential buildings for the sub postmasters.
Due to Bangabandhu's role, Bangladesh became a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) on April 7 in 1973, she added.