News & Notes 675:Final Monthly Report of the former FAMC, October 2016

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675 icon.jpg   News & Notes 675
26 November 2016

Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC)
Final Monthly Report of the former FAMC, October 2016

The former FAMC had its last meeting on 25 October 2016.

Former 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

ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, Miniature executive reappointment (after initial 2 year term) of Ambra. The other executives are Marco and Liliana.

The ABC recommended, and FAMC approved, creation of a new commercial unit, Sunrise Taxi, with executives Boobalan M. and Mohan J., under ABC Trust. The activity has been listed as a taxi service only.

During the discussion of the Sunrise Taxi application a lot of concern was expressed that this new unit should raise the bar on the quality and standard of Auroville taxi services. Therefore the FAMC has asked the ABC to create an Advisory Board, with some supervisory function, for the Auroville taxi services. The quality of service, and safety standards, need to be developed, implemented, upheld. At the end of this reporting period the ABC had not yet responded.

The FAMC made sure all the appropriate and usual documents for the Bharat Nivas Pavilion of India Trust appointment of two new trustees (Deepti T., and Sanjeev A.) were in order and formally approved. This was an instance in which the appointments had already been talked about by the Governing Board, approved by the Secretary's office, and sanctioned by the Working Committee. Usually, a Trust will seek the recommendation of trustee changes through the FAMC, and consequently the Working Committee first. The trustee resignation of Anu, with effect from 24 March 2015, has been approved by the FAMC and the Working Committee has been requested to forward this recommendation to the office of the Secretary.

The FAMC received a complaint concerning the situation at Imagination. A subgroup of the FAMC was formed to speak with the two managers Kathir and Harish about how to 'work things out'. Three proposals were to be presented to the managers which included that the third option is that if they can't agree on one of the other two, the unit will be closed. A subgroup of the ABC support group, along with the FAMC subgroup, have met with the managers. FAMC await their report.

FAMC met with the proposed Hospitality Trust trustees Cristina, Daniel, Louis C., and Susan to review the scope of the Trust. The focus was on: what are the conditions to be part of the Trust, and what will be the contribution. The trustees were requested to make a proposal outlining: what type of activity could be included; what type could not be included and; contribution guidelines. Also to consider, “Is a unit obliged to join, or is it a choice? If it's a choice why would unit executives choose it?” The proposal should be submitted to the FAMC for review. At the end of this reporting period the proposal had not been received.

Sometime in August Angela had taken up the task of finding a creative way to liquidate the remaining Memories from the Future of Light stock. In October Angela reported that some stock had already been purchased by Auroville units, and she was continuing to explore along these lines. Admittedly she is working away at the stock slowly. It was agreed that she should continue. It was further agreed the unit needs to be formally closed. Amy volunteered to follow up with the Trust accountant. Finally, of the funds available in the Financial Service account (about Rs. 12 lakhs) it was agreed to split it 50/50 with half being provided to the BCC (City Services budget), and half to the Assisted Living Home project “Mahalakshmi Home” (Auroville Health Services/Manfred).

The ABC recommended creation of a new commercial unit, Italinfood, with executives Mr. Gianpietro Colla, and Mr. Giorgio Luciani, under Swagatam Trust. The activity has been listed as: “To spread the culture and the art of the Italian cooking in India utilizing products made in Italy, consulting and training of a professional staff.” In mid-October FAMC wrote to Giorgio (Eco Teco Pools) with questions why the FAMC should approve the creation of this new unit, which has a similar business model to Ecoteco Pools, when the current unit's contributions are very low (considering the amount of profit) and claim expenses of up to Rs. 7 lakhs for travel and conveyance which the FAMC find 'questionable'. The members were understandably concerned that the new unit will operate in the same fashion and Auroville as a whole will not benefit. Soon thereafter FAMC received a reply from Giorgio. It was then agreed to ask the trustees to comment on Giorgio's response. At the end of this reporting period the trustees had not yet responded.

L'avenir d'Auroville wrote to FAMC about the unit, Conscious Living, being allocated an underutilized space for its growing activity. It was reported that the unit has taken an office space in Aurelec however needs a rather larger space for required expansion. It was agreed that SAIIER, the Fraternity residents, the unit executives, and anyone else with a stake in the matter should meet all together around one table to talk about viable options in the Fraternity area. The space under immediate review is adjacent to the SAIIER CRCP building and near Discovery Guest House. This exploration is on-going.

Concerning Swagatam Guest House, the Bharat Nivas Pavilion of India Trust trustees have requested an exception to submit the usual documentation, i.e. current executives' acceptance, required when adding a new executive (in this case two). The FAMC has asked the current executives for their input. One executive has responded. At the end of this reporting period no further action had been taken.

FAMC jointly with the Working Committee are reviewing Water Harvest (now closed), and Auroville Water Service (AWS). At present there are two main works of AWS:

a. residential water connections and billing and;
b. Government of India funded expansion of the network.

FAMC, with the Working Committee, are exploring how best to ensure efficient and transparent management of the unit, including day to day responsibilities, and correct execution of the network expansion.

Finance topics

Nothing new this month.

Land topics

The FAMC met with the Land Board (LB) once in October.

A. FAMC requested the LB to review Felicity and Happiness on site and report back concerning the idea to develop certain parts, and the potential to exchange other, non-residential parts;
B. The LB members are aware of the Northern greenbelt situation. They shared that private land owners are not approaching them. Of one that did, for example, the paperwork was not viable;
C. The FAMC offered to prepare a joint statement concerning surveying Auroville lands in general. The LB said they would appreciate this to be done, and so it was;
D. All agreed that the work of Green Acres should be done in collaboration with Acres for Auroville. All such activities should be coordinated by the LB. Any budgetary needs should be combined and existing resources shared as much as possible. FAMC informed those involved;
E. A member of the Dairy group questioned the present boundary at Bamboo Research Centre (BRC). The LB reconfirmed from the survey report “It is unclear how much of the 65/7 was given for stewardship but if the overall allotted was 5.38 then [BRC] is using about 49 cents more of 65/7 as per the above survey (From your 18 Nov map)”. FAMC accepted this detail when it was initially reported. The FAMC decided it will not pursue it further at this time.

Other: concerning sea erosion on Auroville land, a professional contact given by Mr. Chunkath, Dr. Nagendra Kumar from Chennai, will visit the area with Sauro and those concerned. The Working Committee had taken up this matter directly with the Secretary, Mr. Chunkath.

Housing topics

The Housing Board (HB) requested the support of the FAMC to ask the Auromodele community (AMC) to cease requesting a 5% charge, for community infrastructure expenses, to new stewards. FAMC reviewed the details of income and expenditure from AMC and after considerable deliberations concluded:

A. The AMC may want to review the practice; it is up to the people living in a particular place; the FAMC is not going to 'micromanage' different Auroville communities and how they meet some of their collective financial needs;
B. FAMC do not support the Housing Board request to ask AMC to discontinue this practice;
C. When someone decides to live in Auromodele Community, and has been informed of the infrastructure charges, they should uphold the implied agreement to make the contribution.

FAMC informed HB and AMC.

It was asked of the FAMC: how can a contribution on a housing asset valued at Rs. 10 lakhs be the same as the contribution on a housing asset valued at Rs. 80 lakhs? Also, if someone moves from a housing asset valued at Rs. 20 lakhs into one valued at Rs. 60 lakhs, is an additional contribution requested? The FAMC has requested the HS to review the current practice and share with the FAMC their thoughts, comments, and perhaps even a new contribution proposal, if one should arise.

Helmut recently shared his ideas about housing asset evaluations. It was reported the HS has already started to explore, with Helmut, his proposal. FAMC has asked the HS to give a report on its findings.

The HS requested to discontinue contribution to the Repatriation Fund, for a time, which has a current balance around Rs. 30 lakhs. And request to use about Rs. 13 lakhs from the Fund to fix some “dilapidated huts” in Aspiration, to be used for Newcomers. The FAMC agreed the HS can use Rs. 13 lakhs to repair “huts” in Aspiration. FAMC did not agree to discontinue funding the fund. If the fund gets to be around Rs. 35 lakhs in future, then the HS is welcome to make another proposal.

Other topics

The FAMC met with Mr. Chunkath, Secretary, Auroville Foundation, in mid-October. The conversation focused on the composition of the outgoing FAMC, what are the primary responsibilities, and how the Working Committee and the FAMC work together. Informally the FAMC stressed the importance of gaining permission to sell outlying Auroville lands. The new FAMC team will meet with him after the selection process 21 to 23 October. Mr. Chunkath mentioned that the FAMC may be taken out of the Auroville Foundation Rules (1997).

L'avenir d'Auroville requested feedback on the Serenity (formerly known as Maitreye 3) contractor agreement. After quite a lot of deliberation and review of Maitreye 1 and Maitreye 2 it was agreed:

A. require the contractor to put 5% of the contract cost as a guarantee for one year after project completion;
B. request L'avenir d'Auroville to conduct a thorough inspection, in collaboration with the project holders,
upon project completion and issue a 'completion certificate' as is done with new school buildings. It was also suggested to L'avenir d'Auroville that this practice should be implemented on all housing projects.

Stefano, Samarpan, collaborating with Saravanan, Samuthira guest house, submitted an estimate of Rs. 1,68 lakhs to protect the land and assets that are being washed into the sea by creating a 'sea wall' with large rocks. It was agreed that this action may give us time to study the problem more in-depth while saving some of the land and assets at imminent risk. The funds to be used are from an unspecified donation for land protection allocated to the Land Board. Soon thereafter it was reported the fisherman stopped the work. Talks with the local Panchayat were renewed. Vasu, at Repos, was also involved with talking to them. At the end of this reporting period the work was still on hold.

In response to the FAMC request, the ABC support group made a recommendation concerning future use of the place where a building in Fraternity is being demolished and has been under the care of Discovery executives Karna & Uma. ABC stated, “Karna should make a plan of use for the Discovery space/infrastructure and approach the TDC for endorsement”. When asked previously, Karna & Uma proposed to use the space for Discovery guest house parking. The FAMC did not agree this was the best use of this location. Karna & Uma were informed of this. So, even though FAMC had already asked for a proposal, Karna & Uma were asked again to submit, this time, a detailed space-utilization proposal that would include an estimate, how specifically they will get the money to build, and when the project would be completed. They were also asked to clean up the area around Discovery guest house; the FAMC feel that they need to show they can maintain the assets currently under their care while proposing to create a new asset.

Tanto Far Beach at Sri Ma submitted a one year report, as per the agreement with the FAMC. The members observed that in general the agreement is being met, and the activity is contributing as expected. FAMC responded to executives Daniel, Sheril and Paulo with thanks and asked to be informed of any future development plans there.

The Dairy group in collaboration with Pour Tous Distribution Centre (PTDC) and supported by Foodlink wrote a funding project to the Project Coordination Group (PCG) and because the project is over Rs. 5 lakhs the PCG requested a note of support from the FAMC. The FAMC is in support of this project and informed the PCG.

The new FAMC team

On 23 October 2016, by an RA-approved selection process, nine new FAMC members emerged to serve the community in their individual capacities bringing knowledge, skills, and goodwill to the task at hand. They are: Amy (Sunyata), Bindu (Prarthna), Chali (Madhuca), Chandresh (Certitude), Lyle (Fraternity), Prabhu (Promesse), Stephanie (Discipline), Ulli (Fraternity), and Yuval (Utilite).

Thanking you for your interest, AVCouncil and Residents' Assembly Service