The Commerce Commission has issued internet provider MyRepublic with a formal warning after it failed to meet its statutory obligations to provide the information needed by the Commission to allocate the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL).
The $50m TDL is paid by larger telecommunications firms and is used by Government to pay for telecommunications infrastructure, including the relay service for the deaf and hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas and improvements to 111 emergency calling services.
Under the Telecommunications Act, liable companies must provide the Commission with audited financial information that the Commission can use to apportion the levy.
Telecommunications Commissioner Stephen Gale said MyRepublic failed to provide accurate financial information, and an auditor's report, within the statutory timeframe. The information it eventually provided did not meet the specified requirements.
“The efficiency and integrity of the TDL allocation depends on liable companies providing complete and accurate information to ensure the levy is split in the correct proportions. Where one company doesn't meet its obligations, it can affect all the others that have,” Gale said.
As outlined in the warning letter, the Commission decided to issue a warning as MyRepublic has previously been compliant; it was liable for the TDL for the first time in 2017/18; its conduct was otherwise not serious; and the auditor assurance it provided in December 2018 was sufficient for the Commission to make the liability allocation determination in a way that did not impact other liable companies. The Commission will take this warning into account if MyRepublic engages in the same or similar conduct in the future.
The information disclosure requirements on companies liable to pay the TDL are set out in section 83 of the Telecommunications Act. Enforcement responses available to the Commission where a or company has failed, without reasonable excuse, to comply with section 83 are:
- Issue a written warning.
- Serve a civil infringement notice under section 156D incorporating a penalty of $2,000.
- Apply to the High Court for an order requiring payment of a pecuniary penalty to the Crown. The High Court can impose a penalty of up to $300,000 for each breach.