Speaking to the Tánaiste at Leaders’ Questions last Thursday, independent Donegal South-West TD, Thomas Pringle, pointed out: “Your government has a tendency to let the banks run the show when all they have done is put us into a glass coffin of recession.”
Highlighting the importance of Post Offices being included in the rollout of the Basic Payment Account for those who do not have bank accounts, he outlined his concerns as to why Post Offices are not included in the upcoming pilot programme.
“The Department of Finance, which provides for the introduction of a Basic Payment Account, has decided in their wisdom to favour the pilot of basic accounts through those ‘reliable and well-oiled machines’ – the banks! In effect it would seem that for the 17% of people who do not have a bank account, these people are being corralled into the banks and the State ignores the tried and trusted and in situ system that is the post office network. The Department of Social Protection intends to move to 100% electronic payments for social welfare benefits and implement this strategy with the banks. But what the Government fails to see is that people don’t trust the banks. “The Post Office is a trusted part of our communities and can implement the basic account in a way that will provide the easiest access for everyone and continue to allow people to get their payments in their local Post Office. Post Offices provide significant social fabric – put simply the Post Office is the perfect way to roll out this account. This would also help to ensure the continued operation of many rural post offices by growing the services that they can provide. This is something that achieved a high level of financial inclusion in Brazil when the Post Offices there won the tender, and it continues to be a success,” added Pringle.
“The Tánaiste claims that there is already progress in rolling out these accounts to Post Offices, yet none appear to be involved in the pilot programme. Not only would the inclusion of post offices provide cost savings, it would help maintain the jobs of the 3,000 people that work in our post offices and provide people with a trustworthy, reliable service. It is vital that Post Offices are included in the rollout of the Basic Payment Account and I call on the Government to ensure that this happens,” he said.