January 17, 2021
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Budget 2001

Driving The Postman Away

Among all the positive sentiments expressed over Budget 2001, here is some sobering news.

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Driving The Postman Away

SOME BAD news for the average person. There has been a stiff hike in postal tariffs. Among the highlights (disappointments, rather), the cost of post cards has doubled while other postal services too have become more expensive. A printed post card will now cost Rs 3 (an increase of Re1) while the much sought-after competition post card will now cost Rs 5, instead of Rs 4.

"I feel it is time we rationalised these postal rates," says Tarun Das, director general, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). What this will mean to the consumer is a uniform hike of Re 1 for letters that weigh more than 20 gm (that includes books, sample patterns and sample packages). People who get their newspapers by post have to shell out more since registered newspapers will also attract a higher tariff. Parcels in excess of 500 gm will attract a tariff of Rs 16 instead of Rs 12. The basic registration charge for sending a package will now be Rs 17, instead of Rs 14.

Das agrees on the wider ramifications, though. "I am not sure how these will actually hit the consumer but I can definitely say that for the vast rural population, the hike will affect their only means of staying connected," adds Das. The story does not end here. The concessional fee for registration has been doubled from Rs 1.25 to Rs 2.50 while the fee for acknowledgement of delivery has been raised from Rs 2 to Rs 3.

Isn't it tough for those who are below the poverty line, then? "The finance minister said that user charges, including postal rates will be revised keeping in view the increased cost. I am sure he would have looked at the low end of the strata before making such a change," opines Das. Now what has to be seen is how much all of this will affect those in the rural areas, who have no other option but using the post as a means of communication. Will the regularity of communication come down?

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