News & Notes 730:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) Monthly Report - November 2017

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730 icon.jpg   News & Notes 730
30 December 2017


Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) Monthly Report - November 2017



The month of November found us in transition with some members leaving or TOS and new members in joining. We heartily welcome Daniel, Dhruv, and Nicole as new FAMC members, who after being observers at our meetings for the month of November, have now joined FAMC as voting members. We bade farewell to outgoing members, Amy and Ulli, as well our secretary, Angelo who left to work full-time as a member of the Auroville Council. We would also like to extend our welcome to Mr. M. V. Chunkath (IAS), Secretary, and Mr. P. R. Srinivasmurthy, Finance Administration Office, Auroville Foundation who now attend our meeting twice a month.

Last but not least, we are grateful that Gijs has agreed to come on board as FAMC secretary and chairperson and to help the team envision a more efficient and synergistic way of working. Ayesha continues to hold together the secretarial office during these transition times which have been very hectic.

Erratum: Addition to last month’s report: Last month we reported creation of the new unit AuroMira Developers (Auromode Trust), which is engaged in the following services: carpentry, metal works, plumbing, electrical, architecture, hardware depot; and production of thermocrete & CLC (cellular lightweight cement). The unit also engages in solar services, which we had neglected to mention in our last report.

Completed issues

Units and Trusts:

  • Holistic (ABC Trust) executive reappointments: ABC endorsed and FAMC approved the reappointment of Ms. Christine Pauchard, and Ms. Sigrid Lindemann as executives of this unit.
  • Aqua Engineers (ADPS Trust) new executive appointment: ABC endorsed and FAMC approved the new executive appointment of Mr. Markus Ellermann, as a third executive for a period of two years in accordance with usual practice. The other executives are Mr. Dirk Nagelschmidt and Ms. Lila Neemberry.
  • Lumiere (Ankur Trust; dormant unit located in Fraternity): At the request of Suzanne, manager-executive of Lumiere, we are looking at eventually closing this dormant unit. We will be re-allocating the space occupied by this unit and, once we receive details of the land and building assets of this unit, we will invite proposals for the same.
  • Eternal Builders (Kattida Kalai Trust): Upon examining the balance sheets of Eternal Builders, executives Mr. Yuval Skoles and Mr. Jonah Skoles, and managed by Mr. Anan Skoles, we noted that there were several discrepancies in their accounting method and calculation of contribution to City Services. We have asked Eternal Builders and Omega (their accounting unit) for further information and clarification.

Land related

  • Land purchase: Upon the recommendation of the Land Board, we approved the purchase of the following plots of land:
  1. IR 218/2A2 and IR 218/5A in the city centre (near Solar Kitchen)
  2. MA 295/6B (0.86 acres) adjacent to Fertile.
  3. B0 23/1A1 (1.78 acres) adjoining Fertile and Baraka.
  • Land stewardship: We welcome the proposal that current stewards in the northern greenbelt collectively protect newly acquired land and steward the forest in this area. We await the Green Group’s recommendations on this proposal.
  • Site application for Surya Power Plant: Provisional site application had been granted to this project pending a lease agreement between Aditi Diamonds and Pour Tous Trust. The lease agreement has now been drawn and submitted to FAMC.

Housing

  • Use of housing asset: Community residents have contested the decision of the Housing Board regarding the use and proposed stewardship of a house/space being used by the late Siegfried in Petite Ferme. Ulli, as a resource person from FAMC, has agreed to look into the issue.
  • Housing Asset Valuations: A systemic change is needed in how housing asset valuations are conducted. The confusion often seems to arise when houses have extensions and alterations made by stewards, the cost of which they then expect to be included in the valuation of the asset. A subgroup with Chandresh, Dhruv and Lyle with Ulli as a resource person, in collaboration with Housing Board and taking into account Helmut’s valuation method will work on a revised proposal.

Issues related to Auroville Foundation

  • Audit Management: Ramanarayan has been coordinating with the Central Audit General auditors during the ongoing transactional audit. He has submitted a report with his observations to the FAMC office. There are open audit queries dating as far back as 2008. It was observed that communications between the auditors, AV accountants and the Foundation office needs to improve. FAMC is trying to deal with this complex issue, but it is clear that what we need is an audit management team.
  • Tax exemption requests: FAMC agreed to support Social Science tax exemption requests under Section 35 (1) (ii) / 35 (1) (iii) of the Income Tax Act for contributions to three social research projects: Center for Green Practices (under the Centre for Scientific Research), "AV Green Energy Fund" (under Varuna Auroville), and the Kalpana housing project, and has informed the Auroville Foundation of the same.

Miscellaneous issues

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement drawn with Venky: Venky (Vengatesh Kalivaradhan) has constructed a permanent 3-storey structure on Auroville land (Plot # IR192/1) near Aurodam and Visitors Centre, without receiving proper Town Development Council (TDC) approval in the form of No-Objection-Certificate (NOC) for a permanent building. This was a severe breach of trust, especially as the structure is built on land proposed for the future Ring Road, therefore permanent building permission was never issued. While FAMC does not condone this deliberate act of flouting community guidelines, upon Venky’s request, it agreed on the basis of a MoU to regularize the construction and allow him to operate a guest house under established Auroville guidelines. One of the clauses of the MoU stipulates that the future use of this building may be changed depending on town planning determinations by the TDC, including the possibility of demolition.
  • Leave-Auroville Allowance requests: We received two requests for financial support for leave Auroville allowance. First, from Veena residing on Aurelec campus, who wants to relocate to Mumbai, and second, from Linda Berchier an Italian residing in Arati apartments, who had to leave Auroville due to health reasons. As per established guidelines, an ad hoc group including a FAMC member, is being formed to look at each of these requests.
  • Request from Santé: Santé requested help from FAMC in providing continuous medical services to the community, given occasional constraints in shortage of doctors. The management is requesting support of hiring doctors from outside at an affordable cost. We have requested Auroville Board of Services (ABS) for providing supporting to look into possible resolutions to this issue.

Ongoing issues

FAMC members are still dealing with the following issues:

  • approval of BCC proposed 2017-18 budget
  • strengthening the unit Imagination, and
  • the proposed Vibrance Housing Project.


In community,
FAMC (Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Ulli, Yuval; with new members Daniele, Dhruv, Nicole as observers)