News & Notes 762:ABS Annual Gathering – August 22nd 2018
ABS Annual Gathering – August 22nd 2018
Present: Krishna & Kassandra (AVArts), Kavitha, Deep, Anwar & Ankita (Youthlink), Devan, Kannan (IAC), Palani & Kali (EcoService), Christian (AVFG), Sumathi (Foodlink), Yves (PTDC), Anne (Nandini/BCC), Nicole (VC/FAMC), Alan (AV Today), Annemarie (ACUR/Auronet), Jocelyn (Sante/Archives), Manickam (Road Service), Raju (Vehicle Services/AABus), Manohar (AV Website), Peter CS (City Transport/Security), Joseba (Housing/Service Trust), Anandi & Isha (ABS coordination)
INTRODUCTION - Auroville Board of Services is comprised of all the services of Auroville, and ABS is dedicated to promoting all aspects of the service economy in Auroville. In ABS there are 2 Coordinators, a Core Team (4 members), a Support Team (12 members), and an Advisory Team (15 members).
The work of ABS includes coordination of units and Trusts together with FAMC, and advising AV service activities on how best to function within the financial and economic framework that is Auroville.
ABS has recently been involved with presenting proposals about financing & development of the service economy (with TDC & FAMC), policies about taxes (GST), contributions & budgets, and common standards for AV Municipal Services (with FAMC). ABS is also exploring guidelines for development of the International Zone, with Pavilion coordinators.
A PROACTIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROSPERITY AREA – SK Plaza & Crown Road:
Faced with development pressure on all sides, and an uncertain approach to assuring at-cost basic services to residents, ABS works with the Prosperity Area group to assure the space to grow an AV economy with AV standards, and in keeping with its original aims & purpose. The Center of AV is not a large area, and if we are to progress with the vision of ‘no exchange of money’ in AV there is a need for boundaries and guidelines – we need to visualize the kind of development we want, where internal transactions can be ‘cash-free’ and at-cost for residents, without an atmosphere of competitive or consumeristic business mentality.
Many people and groups are working on proposals, one being a kind of PTDOrg – an extension of PTDC for an expansion of the PTDC standard, and also including a range of needed services such as:
- Food – new outlets
- Laundry & Ironing
- House Cleaning
- Transport office
To realize these will take the support of everyone, including the major AV working groups.
Q & A AND OPEN DISCUSSION – What Can We Do to Support Healthy Services Development?
Below some comments from service managers attending the meeting:
- Defining Economic Zones: Ad hoc development has happened over the years, and people point out where others have not followed any guidelines, in order to question the need for policy about boundaries now. Guesthouses are an example of unzoned development, located in AV everywhere.
- The newly-formed Hospitality Trust uses the word ‘Hospitality’ to mean ‘Tourism’. It has been stated that these tourist activities need to be located outside of the City, not impacting AV residents and the internal economy. The word ‘Hospitality’ actually means something having nothing to do with profit.
- General Sales Tax (GST): Taxes ought not apply to internal transactions between Aurovilians and Auroville units/services. While official sanctions are pending the services may exercise awareness, and support alternatives.
- Code of Conduct (CoC) 2017: The CoC is contested, as internal AV contribution policies are included in this document which previously had been about legal obligations between units and Trusts (and ABS/ABC and FAMC). Service Trust plans to clarify with FAMC about the differences between various kinds of units.
- 33% Contributions: The policy of 33% on ‘profits’ came originally from ABC. The entire fixed percentage approach to budgeting (and contributions) does not serve Auroville’s needs, and the CoC goes even further by implying that services make ‘profits’ and need to pay 33%. Service providers do not make ‘profits’.
- Measuring Economics: Auroville is not envisioned as a ‘market economy’. The idea of ‘profits’ (treating each other as a ‘market’) is not appropriate to activities serving the needs of the residents. A truer way to see the health of service activities is needed, not only balance sheets and quantification. Conventional approaches fall short of serving the needs of AV’s aspirations. Many factors make it possible that services exist, these are often not recognized or appreciated. Services need funding and even some surplus income, just to manage a healthy functioning. There isn’t a good understanding about the balance needed between collective & individual support.
One manager tabled a motion to tell FAMC and BCC that essential services – like PTDC – must be supported with maintenances and budgets as and when needed, in order to do the work of serving the needs of the community.
Youthlink proposed a closer collaboration on the theme of AV services, and about serving the needs of the collective through work, and will explore this with ABS as an ongoing project with the youth.
ABS team thanks all who made time to attend, and to others who expressed their regrets that they could not this time, often due to work pressures. Also huge thanks to the staff of Visitors Center for providing a lovely space and helping us all to feel welcome and nourished :)