Post Office closure dispute: “Reopen Estoi” demands local MP
Never one to let a band-wagon rumble past without hitching a ride, Algarve Communist Party MP, Paulo Sá, has demanded the reopening of Estoi Post Office, which was included in the last round of closures.
Accusing CTT’s management of being “only interested in making a profit from big business and large postal distribution centres,” the communist MP has penned a stiff missive to the minister in charge, highlighting local opinion that this cost-saving decision, “does not serve the interests of the population of Estoi.”
“First of all, the closure aggravates the degradation of public services in this rural parish which already had been adversely affected in 2013, in the parishes extinction programme,” fumed Sá, sensing he’s on to a winning PR strategy.
Secondly, “the transfer of a part of the services to the parish council offices not only does not solve the problem but also does not give any guarantee of the maintenance of these services in the future,” Sá wrote, in his letter to the Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, Pedro Marquês.
The MP says he expects that government to “stop the closure of post offices and the degradation of the service provided to the population.”
The government’s position is that CTT now is a private company and, as long as it delivers letters more or less on time, it’s up to its directors to do what they think is right with the branch network, assets and staff.
The planned closures of Praia da Luz and Sagres Post Offices, announced last week to the horror of locals, have hit the headlines and stalwart defence already is being mounted to challenge the government while insisting that the country’s Post Offices should be run with customers needs in mind, not solely for the benefit of its shareholders.
The main shareholders, in descending order, are Gestmin, SGPS, S.A., Global Portfolio Investments, S.L., GreenWood Builders Fund I, LP, Norges Bank, BlackRock, Inc., BBVA Asset Management, SA SGIIC and Wellington Management Group LLP – none of which can be said truly to be dedicated to the service of the Portuguese customer.
The sale of CTT, pushed through by the Pedro Passos Coelho government, yielded over €900 million to the Treasury and was achieved in two stages.
In December 2013, the State sold 70% of the company’s shares at €5.52 a share, and in September 2014, sold the remaining 30% at €7.25 per share.
Francisco Lacerda and his board have overseen a dramatic collapse in shareholder value yet remain at their desks to continue with their much vaunted recovery plan which includes asset sales, thus reducing the company’s value, layoffs and branch closures.
The CTT share price closed at €3.14 today, reflecting poor earnings and a lack of confidence in Lacerda’s master plan. This low share price does offer the government a low-cost way of regaining control of the business before it’s only Portugal’s cities that have Post Offices.