Macedonian Post remains a state monopoly on the market for another year
- Macedonian Post will have the exclusive right for another year to deliver items – letters weighing up to 50 grams
- “Due to some private – party interests Macedonian Post remains a non-reformed company that provides bad customer services”, says the director of the Postal Agency, Vlatko Atanasoski
- Most of the Macedonian Post revenues are generated from the distribution of letters, and the segment of delivery of items ordered online has not even been tackled
writes: Igor Petrovski
At least ten times so far, Goran, a young graphic designer from Skopje, has had a problem with items from abroad, and he says that he has stopped using the services of Macedonian Post and has switched to much more expensive express delivery of items.
“I need a variety of technical components that cannot be found in the country, and I often order them online. But after several cases of lost items, or open packages where there was damage to the ordered items, I decided not to use the services of Macedonian Post, although arriving by regular mail was the cheapest option for me”, our interlocutor says.
Goran is not the only one who has had problems with the items delivered by Macedonian Post. Last year there were over 2,000 complaints about the services of this state-owned enterprise, of which most of the 1907 complaints were for lost postal items, 136 complaints were about exceeding the delivery deadline, while only 7 complaints were registered due to damaged/reduced content of postal items, shows the Postal Activity Report in Macedonia in 2017 that was presented by the Postal Agency.
“But when comparing these 2,000 complaints with the total number of 38.4 million delivered postal mails in 2017 by Macedonian Post, which is insignificant 0.005%, it turns out that the quality of their postal services is excellent. Unfortunately, this is not the case, I responsibly claim that the number of complaints would be much higher if the procedure for their submission was not terribly complicated, a remnant of the old socialist system that deters citizens who feel damaged”, says Vlatko Atanasoski, director of the Postal Agency, which is the regulator of the postal services market in the country.
The postal services market should have been liberalized in 2012
Atanasoski adds that the monopoly position Macedonian Post has on the market in the part of delivery of items weighing up to 50 grams – which means mostly in the part of letters with various contents and aimed at the internal postal traffic, as well as items arriving in the country from international postal traffic – hampers the development of free competition in the postal delivery business, leading to low quality of services. Apart from Macedonian Post, there are currently 36 companies that have a license for postal services, some of which have authorization for international traffic, some are only for the territory of the country, and some shipments only for the territory of the City of Skopje or other cities and municipalities in Macedonia. Of the total of 41 million delivered postal items in 2017, Macedonian Post accounts for 38.4 million shipments, or 93.7% of the market cake.
“The Postal Agency was established in 2008 with the intention to prepare the liberalization of the postal services market, which would also mean the sale of Macedonian Post, which is 100% state owned. The process of liberalization of the market should have been completed in 2012, and now we are at the end of 2018 and the Government has asked for another year to continue the company’s monopoly. For years, in order to protect party and business interests, the monopoly of this company has been protected”, says Atanasoski.
The postal services market report prepared by the Postal Agency shows a continuous fall in the postal market, that is, the number of items delivered in the last few years. In 2014, the volume of the postal market was at least 50 million items, 47 million in 2015, 45 million in 2016, and last 2017, just under 41 million items. The decrease of 9% for 2017 is due to the decrease in the volume of Macedonian Post by 10%, while the volume with the other postal service providers has decreased by 1.5%, according to the Postal Agency report.
“Instead of developing e-commerce, smuggling is protected”
The Agency’s director, Atanasoski also points out that Macedonian Post does not at all develop the segment of delivery of items ordered online by Macedonian citizens, otherwise, a market that has skyrocketed worldwide, and has already exceeded the figure of one billion dollars annually. The problem is, according to him, the huge difference between the amount of duty-free imports for personal use in the road and the amount in postal traffic, which opens up space for abuse.
“At the moment, online you can order and be delivered by post a product with the value of a maximum of 22 Euros, without paying customs. While entering a country from abroad through a border crossing, you can import goods without customs duties worth 350 Euros. The provisions for duty-free import of up to 350 Euros in road transport are misused for illegal import, and this is one of the barriers to the development of the postal sector. The smuggling involves officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Customs Administration”, says Atanasoski.
On several occasions the Postal Agency has submitted draft legislative changes to the previous and this government, that should facilitate the competition in the postal services market, lead to the privatization of Macedonian Post, as well as the entry of a large world player in online trade in Macedonia, but, according to Atanasoski, all their attempts have not met the authorities’ response.
We also requested a comment from the director of Macedonian Post, Ejup Rustemi regarding the findings of Atanasoski, and his office responded that these days they would make an official announcement to the public regarding the liberalization of the postal services market and other moments that Atanasoski had pointed out.