'A faster postal service can spur e-commerce in Brunei'
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - Minister of Communications yesterday stressed on the value of and need for fast and reliable postal services, which can spur in e-commerce business activity within the country.
The minister highlighted this on the sidelines of a visit to the Mumong branch of the Kuala Belait Post Office, while responding to media questions on various new projects being implemented by the Postal Services Department.
The need for speedy postal services is particularly important in this day and age, where people are ever more interconnected, and businesses are continuously striving to expand outside the country and vice versa, the minister said.
"While Brunei shares the same international tracking system (with other countries), we have no tracking of shipment from one post office to another (within Brunei). One of the current projects being undertaken within the country is Bru-Track - or Brunei Tracking System - where customers are able to track when their packages leave the post office or arrive at their residences within the country," he said.
Explaining further, he said, "The traditional international tracking system only tracks packages and parcels that have arrived at and departed the post office, with no information on the package’s status being provided by forwarders and air carriers."
The delay sometimes happens at the end of cargo carriers and forwarders, and this is due to the small volume of cargo coming into Brunei, forcing cargo carriers to wait until a large volume is ready.
"We are currently addressing this issue by communicating with various agencies to ensure that goods are delivered on time. One way of addressing this issue is by encouraging and creating opportunities for online businesses and e-commerce, which can help create volume for cargo services," he said.
"This volume can come from the import of various goods into the country, as well as the export of goods to other countries such as ‘One Village, One Product’ (1K1P) products, which are produced by local businesses and companies. The creation of volume can help incentivise cargo carriers to make deliveries to Brunei more often."
The minister noted that the Mumong branch of the Kuala Belait Post Office was constructed with e-commerce foremost in mind, and that "the various facilities and rooms that can be found at the Mumong post office give local businesses an advantage in their e-commerce business operations."
The ministry is in continuous communication with local companies and businesses - especially those dealing in e-commerce - to gather feedback on the usefulness of the facilities at the post office as well as suggestions and improvements that can be further implemented by the post office.
During the visit to the Mumong post office, the minister also had the chance to check out its large warehouse.
"Currently, many businesses require a bonded warehouse where packages can be kept safely. Such facilities can be provided to local businesses," he said.
"The Postal Services Department is implementing automated services to help speed up the delivery of parcels and letters."
The minister explained that these efforts to expedite the postal services’ operations were made to promote and encourage more e-commerce business activities in the country. He, however, sounded a cautionary note on the improvements, saying that while Brunei’s postal services are improving, the demand for such e-commerce services is growing fast and so keeping up with such a rise in demand can prove challenging.
"Logistics (for e-commerce) is still a challenge (for us) due to connectivity to other parts of the world, and we have been communicating with neighbouring countries like Singapore on how best we can develop a strategy and partnership (to enable us to improve) our connectivity," he continued.
"Developing air linkages and routes from various parts of the world will ensure that international packages sent to Brunei arrive more swiftly. By developing these linkages, we are not only able to quickly send packages and parcels from one place to another but also establish commercial links using those connections."
Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mustappa also said that various projects are under discussion to "provide opportunities for the post office to conduct more activities and projects", one of which being a philatelic stamp museum.
"We are currently in the process of discussing with the Brunei Darussalam National Philatelic Association on the best approach for the project".
"This will hopefully generate interest in stamp collection among those who visit (the post office), but also provide locals and tourists a place to visit and learn more about the rich history and heritage (of Brunei as depicted in the stamps) printed from the old days till now," he said.