News & Notes 671:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) September 2016 Report

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671 icon.jpg   News & Notes 671
29 October 2016



Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) September 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 (L'avenir)), Ulli (Auroville Board of Commerce (ABC)) and Yuval (Housing Board (HB)). Temporarily out of station (TOS): Jeff (Farm group)

Trust & unit topics

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, the executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Udhay and Aurelio at Atmasanga Environment Alliance.

The ABS recommended, and FAMC approved, the executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Bithi and Christian at Auro Orchard.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, the executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Antonio, Kumar K. and Ananda, as well as the executive resignation of Aleksey at AV Food Activities.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, the new executive appointment (for initial 2 year term) of Lieve at Auroville Transport Service. The current executives are Saroja and Venkatababu.

FAMC formally approved closure of the unit, Bijou, with effect from 31 March 2015.

FAMC requested the input of ABS and ABC on two versions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be used between units and Trusts in response to the new Regulations dated February 2016. It was decided to use a one-page agreement. The agreement will be used for new units only. A separate document for new executive appointments will need to be prepared. Both the ABC and ABS have been notified to start using the one page agreement for new units.

A report of who is both an accounting unit executive (i.e. Ananda, Kumar, Prabhu, Chandresh, Dheena, Saravanan) and a unit executive which uses that accounting unit was prepared and reviewed. FAMC fully accept that some unit executives are also the unit accountant. It is alright that there are some existing cases of this arrangement. For future considerations however the FAMC strongly discourage this arrangement. ABS and ABC have been notified.

The FAMC received a proposal from Aurovici to create “super units”. According to the FAMC members, all units are meant to be so-called 'super units' in that they ideally are creating income for the community as a whole. FAMC requested Aurovici to explain what he sees as the next steps. Aurovici replied and then the members decided to ask him if he will work with Yuval (HB), and others who may be interested, to formulate a concrete proposal for a pilot project using this concept to create a 'super service unit' for all construction and building activities, particularly procurement and distribution of construction materials. FAMC has also asked Aurovici to include an explanation about how this concept is seen to be different from the current units structure and system.

The BCC decided to form a steering committee to oversee “food procurement and distribution” which is related to strengthening the community's relationship with activities such as Pour Tous Purchasing Service (PTPS), Hers, and Pour Tous Distribution Centre (PTDC). The FAMC initially requested the BCC to confirm who has agreed to participate in the steering committee. It was confirmed the participants are Nicole (BCC), Anandi, Daniel, Ribhu, Padmanabhan (BCC), Christine and Gerard. There was an initial meeting in September and it was reported that the general tone of the discussion was positive and it was clear that everyone feels the larger topic of food procurement and distribution really does need to be addressed. In this light, the FAMC wrote to the BCC supporting the steering committee to look at food procurement and distribution as a whole. FAMC suggested that the survey carried out last year should be used as a base and starting point to review the situation and make recommendations for improvements in all the units covered in the survey (PTPS, PTDC and Hers).

Related to the steering committee conversation Farm Fresh was mentioned because it is also a food outlet/shop. It was agreed to contact the ABC with a request to take up this topic as a priority. What is the vision of Farm Fresh in relation to being an Auroville unit?

Finance topics

Nothing new this month.

Land topics

L'avenir recommended leasing Auroville land, about 2 acres, to Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco) to establish a 33-11KV substation. It was noted that L'avenir and the Land Board (LB) will have to have a detailed discussion about the terms of the lease. The agreement needs to be signed by the Secretary, Auroville Foundation. It was agreed that for now an 'in principle' agreement can be established. The FAMC wrote to the WCom in support of this request to forward to the Office of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation.

The FAMC several times discussed the Auroville beach lands that are disappearing due to severe beach erosion. An expert from Chennai, a contact provided by Mr. Chunkath, is due to meet soon with knowledgeable Aurovilians to give advice on possible short-term solutions to save this valuable land from further erosion.

Housing topics

FAMC was requested to determine if an Aurovilian was eligible for reimbursement according to the “Newcomer reimbursement towards Auroville housing” policy. The FAMC found that the individual, now an Aurovilian, is eligible for reimbursement and requested that one of the parameters for calculating the amount of reimbursement be changed. In response to the Housing Service (HS) request for a reduction, the FAMC approved the monthly deduction calculation be changed from 0.4% to 0.3%. The HS were informed concerning the individual request, and also to make all the necessary changes to the policy.

The Sacred Groves project holders expressed to the FAMC some concern that the HS was not providing support for the project, like it does for other Auroville housing projects. The FAMC requested the HS to inform potential stewards of housing available in the Sacred Groves project, like it does for other housing projects. It was clarified by the FAMC, because HS has expressed concern, that upon completion each housing asset will be assessed by a professional and when it is deemed to be safe, it will be considered as all other housing assets built in Auroville. Also, any future housing asset repair request, which is 'usual' and 'reasonable', HS should provide comparable repair and support as per standard processes.

A family requested a Rs. 20 lakhs housing loan, to be repaid Rs. 20,000 per month for up to 8 years. During the sharing it was reported that the new housing asset they had sought was allocated to someone else. Also, the currently stewarded housing asset was proposed to be used as an office, temporarily, however the HB did not agree. FAMC asked the family what is the current status of their request; stated its agreement with the HB about the current housing asset remaining residential; and mentioned that stewardship transfer of the current housing asset will help finance a new place. FAMC did not receive a reply as of the end of this reporting period.

The AVC recommended two new community-at-large representatives to the HB: Elaine and Prabhu. The FAMC expressed support for Elaine and Prabhu to join the HB for a three month initial trial period, as per the mandate. AVC were informed.

Other topics

The Farm Group informed the FAMC in July that they wanted to take back Service Farm to be a functioning farm. FAMC replied that the Farm group does not have authority to make this decision, and some Farm group members were invited to a meeting to discuss the matter. Priya, Vivek, Gowri, and Tomas, along with Sandeep and Suhasini of the Land Board (LB) met with the FAMC. During the sharing Tomas reiterated the Farm group proposal, and the reasons to revive Service Farm. Suhasini shared that it needs to be assured which land is available for exchange as negotiations can take several months and the situation shouldn't change mid-talks. FAMC asked Gowri if she wants to move to the New Service Farm plot, adjacent to Sustenance farm, which has been allocated to her several years ago. She confirmed that she does want to move there. The conversation then focused on how to make this happen. It was agreed a subgroup will move it forward.

FAMC met with the Working Committee. In conversation with Carel, Hemant and Ranjith it was agreed a clear and accurate record of lands being used by outside entities is needed; it was decided the FAMC and WCom will announce to residents to inform about any existing agreements involving Auroville land. New agreements will not be entered into for a time (i.e. for one year). In future any land related agreement can only be made with the approval of both the FAMC and WCom; the Office of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation will need to be notified also.

L'avenir submitted the contractor agreement for the Mahalakshmi Home project to the FAMC for review and approval. The FAMC approved it with two changes: to include provision for 'in case of dispute' which is agreeable to both project holder and contractor, and the defects liability period should be changed from 180 days to one year. FAMC replied to L'avenir to go over these details with the project holders.

A new Auroville Health Scheme policy has been drafted and was submitted for FAMC review and comments. The work is quite detailed and it was agreed that individual member responses would be compiled and sent to the subgroup who prepared the draft, which included representatives from the Auroville Health Fund, Budget Coordination Committee, Working Committee, Sante, and the FAMC. This was done.

In response to the Promesse residents' request, FAMC invited three residents, and two Land Board (LB) members, to talk about the pending Promesse land survey and other Promesse-related matters. Bithi, Velu and Prahbu attended and shared their concerns: (a) please give notice when the survey team is coming; and (b) share the results of the survey; and from the FAMC they wanted clarity about any Promesse land exchange: is it happening or not? During the sharing it was agreed that the LB will call Prabhu regarding the survey. FAMC also assured the residents that if a land exchange will directly impact any of them, they will be supported; otherwise no exchange is being discussed. The residents are not against a land exchange; they want to be given plenty of notice and support. It was agreed by all present: it is clearly a valuable piece of land.

Following up from previous reports

FAMC requested input from both the BCC and Guest Facilities Coordination Group (GFCG) regarding what exactly the 20% contribution is calculated on. Back in April the FAMC had stated that it should be on the cost of the room and breakfast. This point was not taken as a directive by the guest houses. Finally FAMC heard back from the BCC and GFCG in September. Then it was clarified by the FAMC that this is a decision that should be implemented with effect from 1 April 2016. Also, the BCC suggested, and the FAMC agreed, that requests for any exception need to be submitted and reviewed by the BCC. FAMC replied with this clarification to the BCC and GFCG.

The Sunship housing project holders requested a construction loan. During its review, the members expressed genuine concern that there are no new/additional people signed up for the project since March 2016. The project holders were requested to submit an interim technical and financial report indicating the stage of advancement of the project according to the schedule of work approved in the agreement with the contractor, and to know in what increments funds are needed over the next several months: amounts and time frames. Sunship revised their request and the FAMC approved, to keep the construction on-going, a loan of Rs. 40 lakhs to be repaid with donation installments expected from future stewards, some of which are Aurovilians and some Friends of Auroville by 31 March 2017. The project holders, and the Financial Service, were notified.