ANACOM orders CTT to carry out an appropriate allocation of expenses between its postal and banking activities

ANACOM ordered CTT - Correios de Portugal to correctly separate expenses incurred in relation to its postal activity and banking activity in its retail network (post offices), in line with the rules of the Sistema de Contabilidade Analítica (Analytical Accounting System), and to forward this reformulated data to ANACOM. CTT is given 40 working days to comply with this determination, which was issued following an audit of CTT's Analytical Accounting System in 2016, which found that expenses were being improperly allocated between the company’s postal activity and banking activity at the level of its retail network (post offices). The determination also follows a prior hearing of CTT.

CTT is given an additional 20 working days to reformulate the results of the Analytical Accounting System for 2017 and submit them to ANACOM.

Engagement in banking activities at CTT post offices implies a sharing of resources (personnel expenses, rent, insurance, condominium expenses, water, electricity, consumables, depreciation and amortisation, taxes and fees) between the postal activity and banking activity. In this regard, the audit conducted in relation to 2016 by Grant Thornton & Associates, as an independent external entity, found that, for a significant portion of these resources, there was improper separation between the two activities.

There was found to be an overstatement of expenses allocated to the postal activity, offset by an understatement of expenses charged to the banking activity, especially with respect to personnel costs, depreciation, amortization, cost of capital, rent and leases, insurance, taxes and fees, condominium expenses, water, electricity and miscellaneous consumables.

Under ANACOM's decision, CTT is now required to undertake the proper separation of expenses of each activity (postal, banking or other), taking into account the date on which it commenced pursuit of the activity.

With regard to the range of expenses mentioned, it is possible to identify a set of categories (including depreciation/amortisation and rent/leases) where levels of incurrence tend to vary in accordance with the area of space (m2) taken up in pursuit of the activity: postal services (CTT), banking (Banco CTT) or any other activity operated by a distinct legal entity.

Expenses directly associated with Lojas CTT, where postal, banking and/or other activities are carried out (expenses related to depreciation and amortisation, and the respective cost of capital, immovable property, rental payments, maintenance and repair of immovable property, insurance, condominium expenses, and cleaning and site security), are to be divided between the postal activity (CTT) and other activities (Banco CTT and/or others). This division is to be determined according to the specific area of space (m2) in use by each activity, which is considered as corresponding to the area specifically designated to the activity’s provision (postal activity, banking and/or other activity), plus a part of the common area corresponding to the proportion of the specific areas previously identified.

Nevertheless, in the case of certain resources shared by different legal entities (CTT, Banco CTT and/or others) in Lojas CTT, allocation to each activity according to the area (m2) designated to the activity would not properly reflect the principle of causality (e.g. the sharing of depreciation and amortization expenses between these activities, and the respective cost of capital, movable property expenses; rentals and leases of movable property; maintenance and repair; water, electricity; and, consumables such as ink and toners, paper, miscellaneous office supplies, etc.) In this respect, and as regards the expenses types referred to in the previous paragraph, ANACOM takes the view that the allocation of expenses in each of the Lojas CTT where retail activities were performed in 2016 and/or 2017 by distinct legal entities (CTT, Banco CTT and/or others), should always be based on the months of actual activity, and their allocation should be undertaken:

a) according to the resources effectively used to support each of these activities (postal, banking and/or other), if there is management information on consumption; and

(b) where the criterion referred to in the previous subparagraph cannot be applied, according to the proportion of personnel expenditure allocated to each of the respective legal entities in each of the financial years, insofar as this represents a reasonable approximation to the consumption of these resources, or otherwise based on criteria deemed most fitting.

This issue is all the more relevant since, under the prevailing regulatory framework, the pricing of postal services included within the provision of the universal service is partly subject to the principle of cost orientation, whereby prices should encourage efficient provision of the universal service.

As universal service provider, CTT is required to employ a Sistema de Contabilidade Analítica (Analytical Accounting System) permitting separation of accounts between each of the services and products that comprise the universal service and those which are outside the scope of the universal service and, additionally, separation between the costs associated with the various basic operations making up the postal services (collection, handling, transportation and distribution).

ANACOM is responsible for approving the Analytical Accounting Systems employed by CTT, ensuring that its proper application is ascertained by a competent entity which is independent of the universal postal service provider. ANACOM is likewise required, on an annual basis, to publish a declaration of conformity with respect to the analytical accounting systems used by postal service providers and of the results obtained.