Bahraini firms protest postal fee rise
Manama, December 9, 2013
Bahraini firms hit by a shock 300 per cent increase in overseas postage fees are calling on authorities to reverse the decision, saying it will cost them thousands of dinars and could force them to look for postal alternatives abroad.
Publishing houses are expected to feel the brunt of the charges and have warned they might have to look to neighbouring countries to cut costs, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Media, advertising and fulfilment services companies will also be hit by the decision.
Gulf International Publications managing director Ali Kashef Alghata said the increase would cost his company more than BD40,000 ($104,000) a year.
He revealed that a major airline contracted with them was now considering taking its business out of Bahrain.
"The negative impact is quite profound and it will result in a net loss for Bahrain," said Kashef Alghata.
"For us it doesn't leave us with many options, except to shift posting to outside Bahrain - or shift both printing and post to outside Bahrain. I will not make any decision until I have a chance to talk to (Bahrain Post Assistant Under-Secretary) Shaikh Bader (bin Khalifa Al Khalifa) about this decision."
Prior to the increase, it would cost 340 fils to mail a magazine weighing between 200gm and 500gm anywhere in the GCC, but the price has now risen to between 800 fils and BD1.1.
For smaller packs, the price has risen by over 300 per cent as a printed paper package of between 100gm and 250gm anywhere in the GCC has gone up from 190 fils to 650 fils.
"A 300 per cent rise in postal rates will be disastrous for all business in Bahrain," said the chairman of a leading publishing house in a letter to be sent to the postal authorities.
"The irony of this serious situation is that while we are trying to bring more business to Bahrain at such a hard time, the authorities disregard our efforts and damage Bahrain's future business opportunities. This will cripple most printing Press houses and many institutions will be forced to stop printing in Bahrain and switch to other countries where prices are more favourable."
The sudden rise has left companies vulnerable, since they have had no time to accommodate the extra costs or recalculate prices for their customers.
"Typically the average weight of a magazine is between 300gm and 500gm and we used to pay 350 fils to send a magazine by post," said Al Hilal Group managing director Geoffrey Milne.
"But in just one day it rose to BD1.1, as the bulk mail rate to the GCC has gone up by 300 per cent. Normally it would increase by five or 10 per cent, but to go up by 300 per cent in one day is completely unexpected.
"Our postal bill would increase by over BD100,000 a year."
The Al Hilal Group has now requested a meeting with Shaikh Bader to discuss the decision.
However, the rise in fees could have a positive effect on private courier companies.
A representative of one of Bahrain's largest private courier firms predicted its business would rise following the decision, as people shun the national postal service.
"This will be very good for us as we offer a hand-to-hand service for almost the same price as the new rates at Bahrain Post, now everyone will come to us," she said.
GDN's attempts to contact the Transportation Ministry, which is responsible for Bahrain Post, and Bahrain Post itself proved unsuccessful yesterday, the newspaper said. – TradeArabia News Service