Requirement for competitive tendering to help guarantee postal delivery five days a week in rural areas
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has sent the government proposal for the Postal Act reform to stakeholders for statements. In the swiftly changing market situation, the objective of the legislative reform is to revise postal regulations to better meet with current customer needs and to preserve the availability of postal services throughout Finland by facilitating new kinds of entrepreneur-based delivery activities and by utilising digitalisation.
"The Postal Act and universal service obligation need a reform so that comprehensive postal services can be ensured throughout Finland. The government proposal together with the Transport Code facilitate the consolidation and competitive tendering of delivery services. If these reforms are realised, postal delivery could still be carried out five days a week also in rural areas. At the same time, the reform would create a new delivery service market for sparsely-populated areas, which could also help in establishing new entrepreneurship," says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.
The currently valid Postal Act lays down provisions on correspondence as well as the post office's general service level, which is referred to as universal service. Universal service includes the requirement that post is delivered and collected once a day five days a week. The number of correspondence items, as well as newspapers, and magazines is continuously falling at a rate of 10% each year. As the amount of mail delivered continues to dwindle, delivery costs per one piece of correspondence will grow, which will increase the need to lighten regulation concerning the delivery of correspondence.
According to the government proposal, delivery of universal service correspondence will continue to take place five days a week in those areas where there is no newspaper delivery network, i.e. early morning delivery of newspapers. This will facilitate the five-day delivery of newspapers in its current form in sparsely-populated areas. Delivery in sparsely-populated areas should be organised via a procurement procedure organised by the universal service provider. In this way, different enterprises that provide transport services could also provide delivery services. The Transport Code, which was prepared at the same time as the Postal Act, facilitates a more flexible integration of passenger, goods and postal transport than currently.
The government proposal proposes that the regulation that applies to the post's universal service be lighted with regard to delivery, collection as well as the time in which correspondence is delivered. In urban areas where early morning delivery of newspapers is available, the law would allow a deviation from weekly five-day deliveries to at least three days a week. The government proposal takes into account the possibility for flexibility in universal service provision outlined in the European Union's Directive on postal services in the EU.
The government proposal has aimed to take the possibilities brought about by digitalisation into consideration comprehensively in the reform of postal services. According to the government proposal, in future, the universal service provider will maintain an electronic information system, which will allow different actors to create and provide digital content for their customers. The information system should to freely accessible via an open interface. Postal code and address listing systems would also be opened up so to allow easier use and the price listings for postal services should be available in electronic format.
In addition, the government proposes that sending correspondence written in braille to the visually impaired should be free of charge. The government proposal would also allow the delivery of correspondence to separate mail boxes in apartment blocks instead of to individual apartments.
"We have prepared the government proposal in a spirit of good will with stakeholders. We expect the consultation process to result in suggestions and comments for sections in the Postal Act that will boldly facilitate not limit the development of postal services," Minister Berner encourages.
Stakeholders are requested to submit their comments by 7 December. The reformed Postal Act is scheduled to enter into force in summer 2017.
The legislative reform project will advance the Government’s key project on deregulation and promote the growth environment for digital business activities. The government proposal will also support the Government's reform of publicly subsidised passenger transportation, which aims of to achieve 10% cuts in prices starting from 2017.
Mr Olli-Pekka Rantala, Director-General tel. +358 50 344 3400, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @op_rantala
Ms Sabina Lindström, Director of Unit, Basic Services, tel. +358 40 527 6103, email@example.com, Twitter @LindstromSabina