IT leaders have welcomed the Government's $12.1 billion wage-subsidiary and sick leave assistance package for business - but have also identified problem areas that need to be addressed in the weeks and months to come as the Crown broadens its response.
This afternoon, InternetNZ head Jordan Carter called on Government and industry to work together on "digital inclusion" measures to make sure beneficiaries and other disadvantaged New Zealanders had access to broadband.
"The Internet is absolutely critical to our country and people getting through this situation. Universal access to the Internet is part of that, and so we need to see digital inclusion improvements as part of the next phase of the Covid-19 response," Carter told the Herald.
"This is important given that so much of the official information about Covid-19 and the response is being distributed by the Government online," Carter said.
The InternetNZ boss said subsidies and free hardware for low-income households were one possible mechanism, but he saw such Crown initiatives working in tandem with projects like Spark's Jump initiative, which offers cut-price internet to children in low-decile areas (the telco is due to announce an expansion of the programme later this week).
Victoria MacLennan, co-chair of digital technology industry association NZRise, "As a group of predominantly small and medium-sized businesses, wage subsidies will go some way towards helping us continue to employ our member's staff throughout the pandemic.
"We hope there will be no delays in paying subsidies to business, and that the application process will be simple and enable a quick turnaround when subsidies are required.
"We urge the Government to hold to its promises to keep spending as a driver of economic activity."
Earlier this month, NZRise urged the Government to not only keep on spending, but order Crown agencies spend on local IT products and services to protect local jobs and protect the tax-take.
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Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford responded that a new procurement rule introduced in October 2018 states that "agencies must consider how they can create opportunities for New Zealand businesses."
IT Professionals New Zealand head Paul Matthews said, "The Government response package seems a reasonable response in the circumstances and there's nothing specific for tech that is missing. As the Minister pointed out, it's likely just a starting point and the economy will likely need more before all is said and done."
Matthews was not panicking.
"By and large, our industry is more insulated than many," he said.
"While we're certainly affected and client demand could certainly reduce in the economic downturn, we're an industry a lot more equipped to self-isolate while remaining productive. We're also looking at how we can respond by sharing some of our knowledge to other industries."