Published On : Tue, Sep 19th, 2017

Agents thriving at GPO as untrained staff turn ‘white elephants’

Nagpur GPO
Nagpur: When a common man ponders over small savings, post office schemes crowd his mind. The savings schemes floated by post office are very popular among the masses. The savings schemes such as Savings Account, Recurring Deposit (RD), Time Deposit (TD), Monthly Income Scheme (MIS), Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificates (NSC), Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP), Sukanya Samruddhi Account, Fixed Deposit (FD) etc are the major attractions. But when one approaches the post office, the staff is very “unfriendly” to the customer but very “friendly” to the agent. In simple words, the agents, albeit authorised, rule the roost in post offices for obvious reasons. Palms of post office staff are greased by the agents who reap moolah in the form of commissions.

The sprawling General Post Office (GPO) in Nagpur has become a hub of nexus between the agents and the post office staff. Even a customer wishing to open his or her account in the post office is treated shabbily. A number of documents are sought in ‘phases’ and ultimately the customer is sent to the agent for job done. If a customer refuses to approach the agent, “shortcomings” are pointed out by the ‘shirking’ staff and his work is not done. The agents are in “high demand” when it comes to availing benefits of government schemes. The post office staff treats the customers in disdain. One of the reasons is that the men are untrained and lack professional approach. The staff is still ‘happy’ with paper work in this digital era.

A visit to the GPO would reveal that the agents showing their faces even before the post office opens and stay there till the last customer. The customers are told by the staff that if they get their work done through the agents, then the commission would be shared by the customer as well as the agents. The agent shares his commission with the post office staff.

A customer visited the GPO other day to open RD account. He was taken aback when 5-6 agents mobbed him. Somehow he reached RD counter and to his surprise the Post Office employee directed him to open the RD account through Post Office agent. Why? The employee could have done the work himself.

It is a known fact that the post office agents receive commission for all post office savings schemes opened through them. According to a report, the government is paying over Rs 2,000 crore annually as commission to agents of the small savings schemes. A committee set up to review National Small Savings Fund has recommended sharp reduction on commissions for agents of post office schemes. The committee noted that small savings schemes are agent-driven and suggested that the commission on them should be gradually reduced from four per cent to 1%.

It has also got revealed that of late there was a rise in the number of cases relating to fraud and misappropriation by agents of National Savings Organization dealing with postal investment schemes. Yet authorities try to avoid their liability towards victims, most of whom are senior citizens and trusting investors.