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Telecom Needs To Show Discretion, Says Roy

Telecom Needs To Show Discretion, Says Roy

Invercargill MP Eric Roy is hoping Telecom will re-visit a controversial change to their community sponsorship programme in light of the financial stress it is causing community groups nation-wide.

Mr Roy said Telecom changed from its Voluntary Welfare Organisation Sponsorship (VWOS) to a Community Connection Regional Programme earlier this year. Community groups could apply for sponsorship to offset telecommunications costs.

“I have been approached by a number of not-for-profit groups with concerns about the increased costs they have to absorb as a result of this change,” Mr. Roy said.

“Under VWOS, these groups did not pay for local calls. Under CCRP, one group has already received a monthly bill which includes nearly $200 for local calls. Over a year, this new cost will have an impact on their ability to deliver their much-needed service, which already runs on an extremely small budget.”

Mr Roy said he had written to Telecom, and received a reply which acknowledged “that some organisations may be disadvantaged”, but deigned to make changes to the programme. He has since written to Telecom chair Wayne Boyd to see if Mr. Boyd can assist community groups under budget pressure as a result of the change.

“It is not just a Southland issue. National community organisations are finding similar problems with this scheme all over New Zealand. Having to pay for local calls is not offset by other elements of the sponsorship and is actually going to cause some real problems,” he said.

“Some groups are already talking about picketing Telecom offices and switching to other telecommunications providers – it’s not a good look for the company.”

Mr Roy said groups who had approached him were grateful for the sponsorship, but the change to charging for local calls would have a critical impact on their valuable work and threaten their viability.

“Telecom did undertake consultation before bringing these changes in, but it illustrates that things that look good in theory often aren’t as flash in practice. I hope for the sake of these community groups that Telecom decides to exercise discretion and find a way to remove these extra costs,” he said.

ENDS

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