News & Notes 660:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC): June & July 2016 Report

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660 icon.jpg   News & Notes 660
13 August 2016

Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC): June & July 2016 Report

Regular members: Anandi (Auroville Board of Services (ABS)), Angela (Working Committee (WCom)), Chali (Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER)), David (Forest group), Matriprasad (Auroville Council (AVC)), Michael (Auroville Unity Fund (AVUF)), Rathinam (Budget Coordination Committee (BCC)), Sauro (L'avenir d'Auroville), Sonja (Housing Board (HB)), and Ulli (Auroville Board of Commerce (ABC)).
Change in membership: Yuval replaced Sonja as the Housing Board representative.
Temporarily out of station (TOS): Angela, Jeff (Farm group), Michael, Sauro
Temporary replacement: Ranjith for Angela

Trust & Unit topics

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, creation of a new commercial unit, Pottery Sipapu under Artisana Trust, with executives Priya S. and Carel T.. The activities are listed as: handmade ceramics & pottery by Priya.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, creation of a new commercial unit, Well Studio Cafe under ABC Trust, with executives Orly and Veronique D.. The activities are listed as: restaurant and art and craft exhibition.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, the creation of a new commercial unit Kallialay Surf School under Auroville Exports Trust, with executives Juan and Samai. The activities are listed as: surf lessons, coaching, and consulting.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, the executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of L. Jayalakshmi at Auroville Press. The other executives are Luisa and Christine.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, closure of the unit, Rain Tree Records. The nil balance sheet has been submitted, along with the Altecs Trust Resolution.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, New School Crafts move from Artisana Trust to Free Flow Trust.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, creation of a new service unit, Abundance Guest House under Guest House Trust, with executives Selvam R. and Manjula S.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, to appoint Palani K. and Kali as executives of Eco Service, replacing the former executives.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, Pour Tous Purchasing Service executive resignation of Jean-Christophe. The remaining executives are Kala and Denis.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, Auroville Telephone Service executive appointment of Mr. Gunasekaran. The existing executives are Sandeep and Ponnusamy.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, Auroville Telephone Service executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Sandeep Dabral. The other executives are Ponnusamy and Gunasekaran.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, executive changes of the service unit Exploration: appointment of Sivacoumar and resignation of Hendrik and Samata. The current executives are Sonja, and Bobby.

Executive changes at Integral Rural Development (IRD) were proposed quite some time ago. Mr. Alain Bernard was to be appointed; Mr. Minhaj Ameen was to resign. The FAMC had some questions at the time however the opportunity to get clarification did not arise. In June the matter came afresh to the FAMC and the executive changes were approved. The members had gained clarity in relation to discussions on another, related topic. Joss is the other current executive at IRD. Alain and Joss have been requested to identify a third executive in the next few months.

FAMC informed Andre and Louis to register 'Auromode Apartments' under Guest House Trust. They replied with a request to be registered under the proposed new Hospitality Trust. FAMC approved their request which can be implemented only after the Trust is approved by the Governing Board. Pending.

In June the FAMC revisited the question of using “Auroville” in the name of a unit. In connection to Adult Learning Activities, FAMC were asked if there is a policy. The FAMC reviewed recommendations from the ABC and found that they agreed:

A. the word “Auroville” should not be used at the beginning of the unit name unless it is a unique activity supposed to represent Auroville officially;
B. the unit name cannot have the connotation that it is 'the' official or 'only' one of that activity.

These points have been approved as guidelines and are not retro-active to existing units. It was agreed to publish the guidelines in an effort to keep residents well-informed of such matters. FAMC followed-up with the group working with Adult Learning Activities.

The ABC endorsed the Mitra Auroville request to amend the unit's activities. Present: The unit is to engage itself in trading with processing of and investing into rough and polished diamonds. Amendment: Further the unit is to carry out manufacturing and selling of glass items, including glass tiles, ornamental glass objects and any other glass based objects as well as purchase and sale of handmade items from Auroville and the region. The unit is also engaging itself in providing consulting services with regards to energy, water and construction projects. After the members' thoughtful reflection this was not approved. FAMC responded to the ABC, and Mitra executives:

A. Mitra Auroville should conduct the diamond-related activities separate from any other activities;
B. The activities listed are too widely diverse to be conducted by one unit;
C. If the executives are interested to do other activities, they may request to set-up other units.

Regarding providing consultancy for "energy, water, and construction projects" it has been suggested the executives of Mitra Auroville may collaborate with existing Auroville activities and consultants who are already engaged in and knowledgeable in the various activities.

Finance topics

In June the Auroville Language Lab (ALL) requested an additional Rs. 7 lakhs (to the Rs. 20 lakhs loan approved in January 2016). This was approved.

In July the BCC informed the FAMC & Wcom “Currently, the whole budget cannot be covered in a secure manner with Rs.1.2 crores missing. This amount corresponds to the Rs.1.2 crores of unpaid contribution from commercial units for the period 2010-15” and made some suggestions how to proceed. FAMC replied with some clarifying questions. At the end of this reporting period the BCC had responded but the FAMC had not yet discussed. Pending.

Land topics

The Land Board (LB) proposed, and FAMC approved a land exchange to gain a plot in the residential zone North of Grace, and along the boundary of Gaia, for land in the Kottakarai colony area.

The LB proposed a land exchange at Annapurna Farm (ratio 1:1). A plot towards the front of the Annapurna was exchanged to gain a plot in the back. The exchange was done at the request of the steward and was necessary to prevent the private owner from opening up the canyon that runs north - south to access his land. There was concern that if the private land owner opened up a road, Annapurna Farm would need to fence both sides of the canyon to prevent trespassing. This was approved.

The LB proposed to purchase 2.30 acres in the greenbelt near Fertile Field. Funds for this purchase are available from donations. This was approved.

The LB proposed land purchase in the greenbelt near Discipline Farm. The majority of funds for this purchase were provided as a specified donation. The balance of funds needed are available from donations. This was approved.

Housing topics

The Housing Service (HS) has proposed the housing asset where Marika was living in Samasti be renovated and utilized for Aurovilians who require assisted living. HS requested of the FAMC their support for this initiative. The members have expressed their support, in principle, and asked the HS to provide more information:

A. renovation plans and estimates;
B. Financial agreements between HS and Auroville Health Service (AVHS) need to be clear; AVHS is primarily funding this;
C. the term 'temporary' needs to be clarified.

Noted: this is not meant to be a substitute for the AVHS Assisted Living Home project. FAMC await further information from HS.

The three month trial period for Ole on the Housing Board (HB) completed in June and members recommended him as a regular member. This was approved. Additional note: concern was shared that some members are relatives. Matriprasad, as the AVC representative, reported that the AVC are talking in general about relatives working together on Boards, etc...

The HB confirmed its recommendation that the regular HB representative change from Sonja to Yuval. FAMC members support this change. The HB was informed.

Other topics

In June the FAMC were invited by the Farm group to give input, by 15 June, on their report concerning Sustenance Farm and New Service Farm. It was stated that thereafter the report would be shared with the community. After some discussion the FAMC members agreed not to comment.

In July the Farm group informed the FAMC that they are taking Service Farm back over to make into a functioning farm and requested FAMC comments about it before 15 July. FAMC deliberated upon this and replied to the Farm group: A. the Farm group simply does not have the authority to make this decision; B. FAMC invite the Farm group to talk about Service Farm, and other points which may arise. The Farm Group did not respond to the FAMC invitation.

In July the AVC suggested the FAMC administer the entire Leaving Auroville Allowance process from now on. The members agreed to take responsibility for it. The relevant documents have been updated to reflect this change, and a 'process' document has been published (see separate N&N announcement and Auronet posting for more information). FAMC informed AVC of its agreement.

In July Angelika at Solar Kitchen asked who is responsible for maintaining the solar street lights. During the members' discussion it was shared that the Working Committee and Auroville Security team are looking at possible long-term solutions. The members, to address this particular situation, decided to ask Sunlit Future for an estimate to fix the lamp and also advise Angelika to approach the BCC for funds to either fix the solar street lamp, or install a new electricity-dependent lamp. Angelika has followed up with a request to L'avenir d'Auroville, and Road Service, stating that public lighting should be their responsibility. This is an on-going exploration.

Fiscal year 2015-16 unspecified donations, FAMC allocation report

Approximately Rs. 39 lakhs were received from three donors, two of which are Aurovilians, during the fiscal year 2015-16. Before 31 March 2016, the funds were allocated by the FAMC for land protection, elder care, and health-related activities:

Rs. 18 lakhs for land protection, which may include caretaker capsules for encroachment-risk lands, fencing, legal fees, etc., as administered by the Land Board.
Rs. 15 lakhs to the Auroville Health Services project, Assisted Living Home for senior Aurovilians who are “mostly fit enough to organize their daily lives and need only special help for things such as dressing, laundry, etc.; and seniors who wish to live together with other seniors in order to be in an environment of peers and mutual understanding and support.”
Rs. 3,5 lakhs to Auroville Health Services for capital expenditure such as in-home care medical equipment.
Rs. 2,5 lakhs (ear-marked) for renovation of one room into two to be used for inpatient care at Arka (pending the room being available to renovate).

The FAMC is very grateful to the donors.

Following up from previous reports

In follow-up to communications with Niva and Elisa in May, concerning the proposed Appeal process of working group decisions, the FAMC clarified one particular point in July and sent it to them for consideration. At the end of this reporting period the FAMC were due to meet again with Niva & Elisa about the proposed policy.

During April and May the FAMC reviewed the irregular house-sitting arrangement of a housing asset in Angiras Garden. In June, after some email exchanges with the house-sitters, the HS, and the steward, the house-sitters decided to remain in the house. FAMC asked that the house-sitters make a new house-sitting agreement with the steward who is temporarily out of station. FAMC stated clearly that any previous house-sitting agreement is invalid.

It has been reported here a Newcomer family, Sebastien and Anne Laure Rollin, decided to leave Auroville earlier this year and requested compensation for funds put towards their Auroville housing. The FAMC has maintained a good contact with them over these last months and a mutually-agreeable resolution has been reached.

In April/May the FAMC approved demolition of a dilapidated building in Fraternity, which is under the care of the unit, Discovery, with executives Karna and Uma. FAMC asked Karna & Uma for their proposal for utilization of the location of the building to be demolished. Their proposal was to put a parking lot for the Discovery guest house. FAMC responded to Karna & Uma:

a. In the opinion of the FAMC, parking is not the best use of this location;
b. parking can be provided within the boundary of the guest house (there is enough space);
c. ABC are being asked to make a recommendation.

FAMC have asked the ABC to inform units of the potential to use this location and to make a proposal to the FAMC within 1 month. FAMC await a recommendation of the ABC.

The ABC submitted a subgroup report concerning Lively and Mohanam activities. In July the FAMC agreed with the subgroup recommendations and wrote back to the ABC to implement them in collaboration with the unit executives, the trustees, the ABS, and Guest Facilities Coordination Group. The need to strengthen each executive team, by adding at least 1 more executive to each, was reiterated. FAMC hopes all the changes will be implemented before the end of this fiscal year (by 31 March 2017).