BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home ...... Sep news

"Telstra at present ... [has] a near monopoly on internet services [in ETimor]. ... internet services had been set at US$2 per hour. ... significantly higher than Australian rates. However, because average East Timorese wages (and most people do not have a wage) are less than one tenth of Australian wages, telephone services are mostly un affordable and the prices on internet services are prohibitive. ... Telstra continues to make multi-billion dollar profits, and it seems to me bizarre that it should extend its profit taking ethos to the poorest corners of our region, and in particular to a devastated country which is really still trying to get to its feet." Dr Tim Anderson, Researcher for Aidwatch
See also: BD: Reconstruction and 'Aid & Development' / Rekonstrusaun i 'Ajuda i Dezenvolvimentu' / Reconstrução e 'Ajuda e Desenvolvimento'

Dear all
My name is Yoga Sofyar sofyar@iname.com
I’m involve in Aid/Watch Australia for Timor Watch
Here is a letter from Aid Watch about Telstra in East Timor


Aid/Watch letterhead

Mr Laurie Brereton, MHR
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

11 September 2001
 

Dear Mr Brereton

Re. Operations of Telstra in East Timor

Thank you for your thoughtful response today, at the University of Sydney, to my question about the operations of Telstra in East Timor. I would be very glad if you could raise this matter when you next speak with Dr Mari Alkatiri. Here are some further details, and our concerns about the situation.

As part of attempting to monitor the development assistance in East Timor (with our East Timorese partner organisations), Aidwatch has been looking at the activities of some Australian companies there.

One concern we have is over Telstra’s normal commercial operations in East Timor. Telstra at present (and subject to renewal of its contract by the incoming Government of East Timor) has an absolute monopoly over telephony services and a near monopoly on internet services. I observed, whilst in East Timor in April, that mobile phone calls are priced much the same as in Australia, and that internet services had been set at US$2 per hour. This latter price is significantly higher than Australian rates.

However, because average East Timorese wages (and most people do not have a wage) are less than one tenth of Australian wages, telephone services are mostly un affordable and the prices on internet services are prohibitive. We have great trouble communicating with our East Timorese counterparts, because of this problem, and these organisations are relatively well off.

I note here that community organisations in Indonesia appear to have much greater access to affordable telephone and internet services. Yet surely we in Australia have an interest in maintaining at least as good communication links with East Timor as with other parts of the region?

Mr Martin Ratia, Telstra’s Corporate Affairs Manager, told me in a letter of 12 July that “Telstra is a commercial operation and plans to make a profit” and that the suggestion I made that Telstra could subsidies its East Timor services from other profitable operations was considered “not appropriate”.

However, Telstra in this country does indeed subsidies some of its operations (eg untimed local call systems) according to social objectives.  Further, regulatory bodies and competition policy are designed, in part, to slightly reduce prices for the Australian users of Telstra services. Yet in East Timor Telstra has no competitors, no ‘social obligations’ and there is no ACCC.

Telstra continues to make multi-billion dollar profits, and it seems to me bizarre that it should extend its profit taking ethos to the poorest corners of our region, and in particular to a devastated country which is really still trying to get to its feet.

Would you not agree that some Government direction is required to help Telstra see that “making a contribution to the rebuilding of East Timor” (as they claim to be doing) is a bit more than just business as usual?

You mentioned ‘cost recovery’ today, but it seems to me that there are three cost structure possibilities, assuming Telstra’s license is renewed by the new Government of East Timor:

1. Normal commercial operations, which will maintain the status quo, with telephony and internet services accessible only to the elite in East Timor.

2. Cost recovery operations, which might be negotiated between the two Governments and Telstra. This might reduce the price of services by 20% or 30%, which would still keep most services unaffordable.

3. A cross-subsidised operation, where Telstra services were provided significantly below cost to make them relatively affordable at least to East Timorese urban populations and community groups. Telstra’s losses here could be written off against its other highly profitable operations in Australia. This option would require significantly stronger direction from the Australian Government, and a little creative thought.

I hope your strong commitment to the people of East Timor may help you find a solution to this very basic problem. If Australia is to reach out and converse with our region more effectively, under a Labor administration, this is one very practical way in which we may be able to do so.

Yours sincerely

Dr Tim Anderson
Researcher for Aidwatch

cc. Dr Mari Alkatiri, ETTA (Dili)
 Mr Martin Ratia, Telstra (Sydney)


Bahasa Indonesia:
AID/WATCH   Monitor dan Kampanye atas dampak dampak sosial dan Lingkungan dari Bantuan Pembangunan Australia  Updated July 21
Profil Organisasi:
Latar Depan: AID/WATCH adalah sebuah organisasi berbasiskan pada masyarakat, tidak mengambil untung, melakukan kampanye atas keterlibatan Australia dalam bantuan luar negri dan proyek proyek, program dan kebijakan pembangunan.
Sewaktu kami memonitor Dolar pembangunan, kami bekerja untuk memastikan bahwa uang bantuan tersebut menjangkau individu, masyarakat dan lingkungan yang tepat.
AID/WATCH bekerja sama dengan organisasi dan masyarakat di negara negara berkembang, yang kebanyakan berada di daerah Asia Pacifik, dimana masyarakat terkena dampak yang merugikan dari aktifitas proyek pembangunan Australia.
Hal ini bisa terjadi melalui program program bantuan bilateral, Bank bank pembangunan multilateral dimana Australia berkontribusi, seperti World Bank, IMF, ADB dan perusahaan perusahaan Australia termasuk EFIC (ECA) yang dimiliki oleh pemerintah Australia.
Aliran dari uang bantuan bisa jadi sangat positif terutama dalam program program kesehatan dan pemulihan darurat (emergency).
Profil Organisasi AID/WATCH: http://www.aidwatch.org.au/timor/indo_profile.html
Timor Watch: Menyadari besarnya peran Australia pada pembangunan di East Timor maka AID/WATCH telah memulai kampanye 'Timor Watch' yang akan bekerja sama dengan Organisasi kemasyarakatan lokal untuk memonitor peran dari dana bantuan dan agen pembangunan dalam proses pembangunan kembali East Timor.
TIMOR WATCH: June 20 2001: http://www.aidwatch.org.au/timor/twindex.html
Informasi Lebih Lanjut: Untuk informasi lebih lanjut silahkan melakukan kontak dengan AID/WATCH di:
Kontak Person: Bahasa Indonesia: Yoga Sofyar (Campaigner) Bahasa Inggris: James Arvanitakis (Director); Tim Anderson (Campaigner); Melanie Gillbank (Campaigner).
Telp: +61 2 9387 5210  Fax: +61 2 9386 1497  Alamat Pos: PO Box 652, Woollahra NSW 2025, AUSTRALIA
Email: aidwatch@mpx.com.au  Homepage: http://www.aidwatch.org.au

English:
AID/WATCH   Monitoring the Development Dollar  Updated July 14
AID/WATCH is a community-based, not for profit, activist group that campaigns on Australian involvement in overseas aid and development projects, programs and policies. AID/WATCH works with partners in low-income countries, including East Timor, where people are adversely affected by Australian development activities. This may occur through bilateral aid programs, multilateral development banks and Australian corporations. AID/WATCH also aims to inform the Australian community of how their aid dollar is being spent and what impact it is having, believing that increased awareness of the reality of international aid will lead to aid programs that truly benefit the local population.
Purpose: To support people and communities in low-income countries to determine their own development futures; to ensure that aid money reaches the right people, communities and their environments, and that aid projects are implemented with stringent environmental, ethical, social and cultural guidelines
Telephone from within Australia: (02) 9387-5210  Telephone from overseas: +61 2 9387 5210  PO Box 652, Woollahra NSW 2025, AUSTRALIA
Email: aidwatch@mpx.com.au  Homepage: http://www.aidwatch.org.au
The World Bank in East Timor: July 5 2001: http://www.aidwatch.org.au/timor/wb_et.html
TIMOR WATCH: June 20 2001: http://www.aidwatch.org.au/timor/twindex.html
AID/WATCH items added to BACK DOOR prior to June 2001: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/aidwatchbackdoor.htm


See also:
BD: Reconstruction and 'Aid & Development' / Rekonstrusaun i 'Ajuda i Dezenvolvimentu' / Reconstrução e 'Ajuda e Desenvolvimento' - A collection of recent press releases, reports, and articles


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home ...... Sep news
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