News & Notes 628:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) November 2015 Report

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628 icon.jpg   News & Notes 628
19 December 2015

Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) November 2015 Report

Regular members: Anandi (Auroville Board of Services), David (Forest group), Jeff (Farm group), Michael (Auroville Unity Fund), Ranjith (Working Committee), Rathinam (Budget Coordination Committee), Sauro (L'avenir d'Auroville) TOS from 17/11, Sonja (Housing Service), and Ulli (Auroville Board of Commerce).
Temporarily out of station: Chali (Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research), and Matriprasad (Auroville Council)
Other attendance: Mr. Srinivasmurty (Finance & Administrative Officer, Auroville Foundation; currently Secretary-in-Charge) has stopped attending.

Trust & Unit topics

The Auroville Board of Services (ABS) recommended, and FAMC approved, executive changes for the service unit 'Welcome in AV': appointments of Lieve, and Sivacoumar; resignations of Hendrik, and Ellen.

ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, executive changes for the service unit 'Guest House Umbrella': appointments of Tineke, and Giovanni; resignations of Thomas, and Roberta.

The Auroville Board of Commerce (ABC) recommended, and FAMC approved, creation of a new commercial unit 'Conscious Living' with executives Fabien B. and Jane. This is a food manufacturing unit under Team Trust.

ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, the request of the unit 'Varuna Auroville' to amend the activities of the unit, namely,: “Further to generating electricity by wind turbines, the unit may also generate solar energy and water and provide this free of charge to the Auroville consumers, in the same way, and under the same conditions, as for wind-energy.” During the discussion it was agreed to write to the Varuna Auroville executives with a request that they be sure to collaborate with existing services and units. FAMC members also shared that they would appreciate to see more receptivity and openness towards the community.

Finance topics

The Government of India (GoI) Plan Grant subgroup informed the FAMC that it supported the request from the Town Development Council (TDC) for an infrastructure funds advance of Rs. 156 lakhs. The FAMC approved this request.

Land topics

To respond to some comments about greenbelt land purchase, it was agreed to make a clarifying statement about it. In the February FAMC report it was stated that greenbelt land purchase will be considered on a case by case basis. The last greenbelt purchase was reported here in May. FAMC reiterate that greenbelt land purchase continues to be considered as presented by the Land Board (LB). Strategic value and land consolidation are two important decision-making considerations.

FAMC met with the LB several times this month to discuss:

  1. land purchase administration;
  2. Gokulam protection and neighbour issues;
  3. cyclone timber liquidation;
  4. permission for sale of outlying Auroville lands;
  5. temporary land protection caretaker criteria;
  6. Swami land exchange update.

The Land Board proposed, and the FAMC approved due to consolidation with adjacent Auroville-owned land, purchase of 1.46 acre in the inner greenbelt area.

Housing topics

The FAMC formed a subgroup to discuss pro bono housing allocation. The proposal “housing against recognized work” was submitted. The FAMC shared its comments and suggestions and requested the Housing Board (HB), as a next step, to get input from the wider community before implementing.

Earlier this year the FAMC sanctioned Rs. 12 lakhs for the ongoing Sacred Groves housing project, under clear and agreed-upon conditions. The project holders requested the final instalment of Rs. 4 lakhs, which was approved. The FAMC requested the project holders to give an updated estimate to finish the three prototype houses, and a revised completion date.

The HS forwarded a request from Buildaur for staff quarters and requested input of the FAMC. During the discussion it soon became clear the members see this as the role of HS to review case by case situations and make a decision.

The FAMC received an Aurovilian complaint about the Swayam housing project done by Buildaur. The FAMC requested the HS to meet the Buildaur executives and the Aurovilian on site to review the repairs needed and see if some agreement can be reached.

FAMC met with the Kalpana project holders at the end of the month. The FAMC asked for clarification on overall project financing and on financial assistance that may be provided to some future residents. It was reported that 38% of the total cost for the first year are available. The FAMC shared its concern that eligibility and allocation criteria guidelines be clarified and communicated. The project holders and the HB have been requested to document the eligibility and allocation criteria and share it with the FAMC. Thereafter the information will be made public within the community. The FAMC followed-up in writing specifying that no financial support assurance or allocation decisions should be made in the interim.

Other topics

The FAMC and Working Committee (WCom) met and discussed:

  1. An Aurovilian's letter to Dr. Karan Singh – Chairman, Governing Board, that is being followed-up by WCom and Auroville Council (AVC);
  2. A non-Aurovilian occupying an Auroville housing asset;
  3. WCom centralized accounting service proposal;
  4. ABC and Integrated Entrepreneurship Lab (IEL) potential collaboration;
  5. ABC-proposed mandate (dated 22/7/15).

The FAMC gave feedback to the AVC-published revised FAMC mandate and included comments on:

a. selection process;
b. membership;
c. chairperson;
d. membership staggering, and;
e. distinguish 'policy decisions' from 'operational decisions.

The FAMC reviewed the TDC agreement with the Irumbai Panchayat on a solid waste management project utilizing Auroville land. The FAMC requested that the wording of the agreement be amended to state clearly that the project is jointly coordinated.

It was reported that an Aurovilian architect and Aurovilian builder, worked on a private project in the Master Plan area. In the meeting the members acknowledged that the Aurovilians responded over email so it did not need to be discussed. However FAMC requested L'avenir / TDC to re-publish the government order concerning permission to build in the Master Plan area (ref: 2003 document).

Following up from previous reports

It has been reported here that the FAMC is insisting that Ramachandran repay a long outstanding debt to Auroville, and to respect the Home Stay guidelines which he agreed to when he was provided support to manage a Home Stay. This month the FAMC had to meet with Ramachandran because he was not responding to written communications. Financial Service reported that Rs. 46,000/- known to be paid by Ramachandran Home Stay guests were not channelled through the collection account. The outstanding debt to Auroville was not being paid, as agreed, at least Rs. 10,000/- per month. The following decisions were made and he was informed after being invited back into the meeting:

a. he will pay Rs 21,000/- into the Home Stay account before end of the work day 11/11/15. This is 20% of Rs 1,05,000 (advance paid by a guest), the amount that is owed to Auroville as per the Home Stay Guidelines;
b. he will resolve with Nico, or Otto, the amount of the outstanding debt. This amount, including the interest from June 2015, will be paid in full into the Financial Services before end of the work day 31/12/15.

Failing to comply with the conditions as detailed above will result in a review of Ramachandran's stewardship of the Home Stay.

The FAMC, in collaboration with the ABC, continue to monitor the situation at Hers, pending the decision about its future. The members reviewed the trial balance sheet (April to September 2015) and expressed a deep concern about what was revealed. Over the course of the month the executives answered more questions and by the end of November FAMC made specific and time-bound requests of the executives.

It has been reported here that Harini made a presentation to the FAMC about unit performance. At the request of the FAMC, Harini provided additional liabilities information on the following units: Auroville Press, Imagination, Sharnga Guest House, Atmarati Architects, Auroannam, Farm Fresh, and Maha Transport. It was decided to request ABC (for the commercial units) and GFCG (for the guest house) to research the details of the liabilities and make recommendations to relieve the same, up to an including recommending to close the unit.

In August it was reported that the FAMC asked the Free Flow Trust trustees to take a look into the situation at AuroAnnam. Last month the trustees reported “Auroannam has no major outstanding liabilities to any clients. The losses shown in the balance sheet is mainly accumulated maintenances.” The Trust noted that an additional executive needs to be appointed. This month during a deep reflection among the members, sincere concerns about the overall healthiness and viability of the unit were voiced. It was agreed to ask the trustees to:

a. make sure there are no more liabilities created by the unit;
b. recommend a second executive who is involved in day to day activities/work and;
c. submit a financial report (trial balance) in 6 months.

Last month the FAMC reported on its review of the Mohanam-proposed 'Centre for Culture and Heritage'. This month Mohanam confirmed they are ready to use land, previously allocated for bamboo research, for the proposed Centre. The members agreed to inform L'avenir of their support for the site application at this location. It was further stated that the structure of the different Mohanam activities needs to be clarified before building permission is given.

In October it was reported that Suryan informed the FAMC about a loan he made to the activity under Eco Service called Auroscrap. During further deliberations the members stated their commitment that the loan amount would be paid back within 12 months. FAMC have inquired with the Budge Coordination Committee (BCC) about a reported Rs. 1 lakh grant that had been retroactively sanctioned but the funds were not actually given. If BCC confirm, and will provide these funds, that amount will be applied to repayment of the loan. Suryan was requested to report on the income from liquidation of the remaining Auroscrap stock. Finally it was decided that the Eco Service accounts would be reviewed to see if it is a viable option to repay the loan balance from the unit.

It has been reported here, and announced separately, the FAMC is creating a study group on succession planning. About 10 individuals expressed their interest. In November it was agreed to confirm who from the ABC will participate; to write to those who expressed interest and let them know the time line is pushed out by 1 month: to start in January and; the FAMC will prepare a detailed brief.