News & Notes 918:FAMC 12th April 2022 update to the Governing Board (59th meeting)

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918 icon.jpg   News & Notes 918
16 April 2022

FAMC 12th April 2022 update to the Governing Board (59th meeting)

Action points related to finance and economy and their respective updates:

  1. Simplify the governance and organisation structures (trusts, units, activities and committees). The first meeting of the Organisation and Governance committee constituted by the Governing Board was scheduled for Friday 2 April, to which two FAMC members were invited to discuss this topic. This meeting had to be postponed and we await rescheduling.
  2. Integrated common accounting systems to be implemented for more effective and transparent financial management. This is in the process of being implemented. At present the team is addressing connectivity of the various accounting offices to the server, defining roles and permissions for accessing data and learning how to do automated accounts consolidation through the centralized Tally.
  3. Preparation of an annual Auroville budget that includes all resources and all needs. The Budget Coordination Committee (BCC) has completed a Community Budgeting Process exercise for the first time this year. This process may be scalable to explore and prepare an all resources and all needs budget. Resource persons are currently being identified to drive this exercise.
  4. Preparation of a medium and long-term economy plan including financial plans of the income-generating units of Auroville. There is no current progress on this topic to report.
  5. Enhance Auroville food production to meet the needs of Auroville. A subgroup (Allan, Nidhin, Avinash, Fred) has been formed to review food production and coordination between Auroville farms, outlets and eateries. Soon they will present a pilot proposal as well as a proposal to form a new Food Group for coordinating the production and utilization of produce in Auroville.
  6. Use some of the outlying lands [see number 11 too] of Auroville for income generation through joint ventures or ventures in which Auroville has a passive stake. Proposals have been made in identified key areas (Kuilapalayam, Felicity area, beach areas, etc.) but we require the support of the TDC (ie. land surveys) which has been very slow.
  7. Ensure that all basic needs of all residents are met and that all residents contribute to the realisation of Auroville. The Prosperity Group has been invited to present to the FAMC an implementable plan.
  8. Elimination of internal money exchange.
    1. Results of a small study conducted December 2020 to January 2021 revealed the following reasons given by external parties to pay by cash:
      • I only have an international credit card and want to avoid the additional 2% bank charges you charge for credit card payments;
      • I have to pay too high bank fees on international credit card payments;
      • I have too much cash with me at the moment and prefer to pay in cash;
      • I don’t have my mobile nor my bank card with me;
      • I didn’t know I could pay by debit card and didn’t bring my card with me;
      • I didn’t bring my debit card and don’t have UPI on my mobile;
      • I only have cash with me.
      • Cash is legitimate legal tender.
    2. Almost all internal transactions between Aurovilians and persons/ entities with Financial Service accounts are done through the Financial Service and without cash.
    3. We continue to explore ways to encourage/ promote digital transactions within Auroville, including the creation of a Financial Service “blue sheet” app.
  9. Make capital available for the growth of existing income-generating units and start-up capital for new income-generating units. The Flourish initiative has launched a 3-month case study on internal investments and external investments. It must be acknowledged that capital is not the most urgent need or at least it is not the only need and has to be seen together with: human resources and space (office and production floors). One example: Miniature has asked for permission to build a production space 2 years ago. They have the capital and human resources to grow the unit. But the permission to build has been delayed by TDC.
  10. Strengthen and support the knowledge economy.
    1. The FAMC is working towards organizing a seminar on the topic. Lalit from Auroville Campus Initiative, and AV Consulting have both been asked to help to organize the seminar.
    2. Purnam Centre submitted a practical proposal for growing the Knowledge Economy which we understand has already received support and funding.
  11. All Auroville lands, buildings and other assets must be utilized to generate collective resources for Auroville as a whole.
    1. Our current focus is obtaining/ maintaining accurate and up-to-date data on lands and buildings (residential and otherwise). The Auroville Consolidated Asset Registry and Application Tracker (ACARAT) for the FAMC, Land Board, and TDC and the Housing database (HOUMAN) are being continuously improved.
    2. ACARAT Land module “land record clean-up pilot”. The pilot has been completed and we propose to present the report to the Secretary, Auroville Foundation.
    3. One recommendation from the report is to request the permission of the Secretary to allow information collected by CSR Geomatics (online GIS developed by Auroville) to be made available to the Land Board via ACARAT.
    4. Housing survey to obtain accurate present information about housing and its occupancy in Auroville has already been started by the Housing Service.
  12. Contributions by income-generating units to be reviewed (rationale of the 33% contribution; utilisation of surpluses). The FAMC is considering using the Citizens’ Assembly process to review and improve the Contribution Policy. The aim is to expand the scope of review in any case and have a new policy in place by August 2022.
  13. Establish an innovation and incubation center for the youth to be actively engaged.
    1. Youthlink is running ‘Project Nursery’ which operates as a channel for resources, guidance, and support for youth activities or units to kick off. Starting activities or units in Auroville can be daunting with little information and much bureaucracy. ‘Project Nursery’ supports young adults who wish to create and incubate a project by providing information and assistance with administrative services and linking them to other projects, groups, and relevant mentors. Support will range from the personal (counseling, mentoring etc.) to the professional (project planning, financial resources, skills) in order for the activities to succeed. Some youth initiatives have been: HIVE, Joy of Impermanence, Eco-Village Education which became C4U (Come for Unity), Aura, Auroville Young Ambassadors, Saturday Grill, Pakka Box, and Inner World Studio.
    2. Youth Centre Vision January 2022 recalls the original aims of the Youth Centre: “The aims for the YC, stated at its inauguration were to include activities such as sports and physical education, training in forest management, gardening, agroforestry, workshops on life skills such as carpentry, mechanics and electronics, arts (painting, sculpting, carving), facilities, such as a literature and reference library as a base of peer-lead and self-lead learning and education, computer and internet facilities for research and communications, community events and gatherings to share, live and explore as a community.” In mid-February the Youth Center team met with the TDC. It was agreed to develop a Youth Center Vision and project which would be shared with the community. It was also agreed that once that is established, a project can be incubated.
    3. Maarganam project (six-quarter rotating internship for Auroville youth) has been given support by the BCC and is getting started. The project team is Chandresh and Priyamvada.
  14. Reduce construction costs with innovative construction practices and effective and transparent price discovery mechanisms. No further action has been taken nor is planned by the FAMC.