I welcome the interim report published this week from the Post Office Network Business Development Group and hopefully this will be the start of the revitalisation of the Post Office network throughout the country and especially in rural areas. However, a lot of work needs to be done, and I am calling on the Government to look at the proposals being made in the report and implement them without delay. All avenues must be explored to increase the business being done in Post Offices nationwide including increased capability in financial services, an enhanced role in the delivery of government services, the development of e-payments accounts, and also the payment of local authority accounts, water bills and other utility payments. Social welfare payments account for 35% of the business being done by Post Offices, and that should also be borne in mind by the government when considering this report. There is also the possibility that Post Office and Credit Unions could work more closely together in offering financial services to people in rural areas following the withdrawl of the banks from almost every local rural area in the country. I will be following up these proposals with the minister and the government immediately. We have to safeguard our Post Office network. It is vital for the survival and development of all rural communities.
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