U.S. Postal Service Loses $3.5 Billion ln Third Quarter

Posted By on August 5, 2010


Thu Aug 5, 2010

* Postal Service concerned with future liquidity

* Says regulatory changes necessary for fiscal stability

By Jasmin Melvin

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. Postal Service reported a quarterly net loss of $3.5 billion on Thursday and said it will likely have a cash shortfall going into 2011.  The agency, which delivers nearly half the world’s mail, has reported net losses in 14 of the last 16 fiscal quarters.  Revenue in the third quarter that ended June 30 fell $294 million to $16 billion from a year ago, while expenses were $789 million higher at $19.5 billion, due largely to higher workers’ compensation costs and retiree health benefits.

“Given current trends, we will not be able to pay all 2011 obligations,” said Joseph Corbett, the agency’s chief financial officer.

Cash flow seems on track to handle 2010 operations, Corbett said, but it is uncertain whether sufficient liquidity will be in place for 2011 after the agency must make a $5.5 billion payment on Sept. 30 to prefund retiree health benefits.  “It is clear that a liquidity problem is looming and must be addressed through fundamental changes requiring legislation and changes to contracts,” Corbett said.

A U.S. law requires annual payments through 2016 to prefund the health benefits, a requirement not placed on any other government agency. The Postal Service is pushing for legislation that would restructure this payment schedule.  Congress lowered the amount the Postal Service was obligated to pay to prefund benefits in 2009, but there has been no indication that will happen again this year.

To remain solvent, the Postal Service is also seeking Congressional approval to cut Saturday service, and has proposed price hikes for 2011 that require approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. [ID:nN06102566]

More at:  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0517225620100805

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