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Pressure mounts for renationalisation of Portugal’s Post Offices

Published on 22/01/2019

The prime minister is coming under increasing pressure from party members to put the renationalisation of Portugal’s post office company, CTT, on the electoral agenda.

Voices are now being raised, demanding a share buy-back be listed in the manifesto for the autumn general election.

CTT was privatised four years ago by the previous government, since which its shares have plummeted yet dividends remain high, paid from reserves and property sales by a management that now is described as acting in a ‘greedy and savage way,’ acccrding to Tiago Barbosa Ribeira, the Socialist deputy responsible for labour issues.

“The Socialist Party must recognise the decisive importance of the postal service and this can only be achieved through public intervention,” said Manuel Pizarro, leader of the socialists in Porto.

Pizarro is not alone as Left Bloc and Communist Party MPs agree that the current CTTmanagement plan has led to closures and a decline is service standards which now are below those expected.

Last week, the communists delivered a bill to parliament, “to start down the path of public control” and requested to hear the Minister of Planning and Infrastructure, Pedro Marques, in parliament.

A survey this month by the regulator, Anacom, showed that the closure of post offices in 2018 has raised to 33 the number of municipalities that do not have a proper post office, with 15 more Councils to be added to this kist in the near future.

Four Council areas in the Algarve are taking out an injunction to halt branch closures in Aljezur, Praia da Luz, Sagres and Carvoeiro. The Douro Intermunicipal Community also has filed an injunction against the closure of branches in the region.

The CTT post office closure plan is part of the restructuring started just over a year ago by the management team led by Francisco de Lacerda.

At the end of the first year of the plan’s execution, CTT claimed to have achieved savings of €14 million – but at the cost of staff and outlets, thus contracting a service provision that was meant to have been universal.

The largest shareholder in CTT (with 12.43% of the capital) is Gestmin, controlled by businessman, Manuel Champalimaud. In a recent interview, he commented that if the Universal Service was to be continued, another company would have to be set up to run it and taxpayers would have to pay for it.

The Socialist Party in Porto wants to see a parliamentary commission of inquiry set up to study how the PSD-CDS Government handled the privatisation of CTT in 2014.

For the moment, the Government is under increasing pressure to make a decision on the immediate future of the company and avoid CTT becoming an election issue.

The Post Office now is bank so any change in ownership needs to be approved by pro-privatisation Brussels. Meanwhile, rural areas have less to offer and social divison increases.