Economy Group Progress Report March-August 2002
- as submitted to the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation in September 02
The Central Fund
We would like to share some important information with you regarding the present position of the Central Fund. It has been noted that although on average the total monthly income to the Central Fund is more than it was a year ago, it is proportionally less for the corresponding time of year, mainly due to fewer guests having come to Auroville. Recently there has also been a decrease in regular contributions from several of the commercial units. In addition, over the last few months, the contribution through the Financial Service (Auroville Maintenance Fund) that represents the interest accrued on pooled deposits from individual Aurovilians as well as those of activities, units and projects, has also decreased because interest rates have gone down. Some of the above-mentioned are due to the effects of global pressures. Nevertheless, as these trends continue, it becomes an increasingly difficult challenge to take care of all the needs that the Central Fund is expected to meet.
Shortfall from September through December 02
It is anticipated that there will be a shortfall of Rs 2-4 lakhs per month for at least the last four months of the year 2002. This is without having considered any of the requests for increases that generally accompany the reopening of the schools for the new school year every July; without having considered any requests for increases of other budgets under the Central Fund umbrella; and without considering any increases in basic expenses for needs relating to maintaining Aurovilians in a society as complex, and an economy as experimental and multifaceted as those of Auroville.
Revising billing policies
In one sector, certain services that could become self-supporting are being assisted to do so, with the understanding that this is suitable for only a very specific few. For example, the Auroville Electrical Service has begun the process starting in August by revising its billing policy so that each service call includes both overhead expenses and the costs of materials used. Aside from this, there will be a 2% surcharge on bi-monthly bills for domestic electricity connections over Rs 200/=. A 5% surcharge on the bi-monthly consumption bills for commercial units had been put in place earlier. It is expected that these measures will bring in an average of Rs 5 lakhs per year, which is roughly equivalent to what the Central Fund has been giving to the Electrical Service as a partial subsidy.
Exploring forms of participation
On a wider level, an appeal has gone out asking everyone in Auroville to be aware of the situation in our Central Fund and for each to respond accordingly. For some this may be an exercise in reorganisation so as to ensure against any form of wastage of resources - human or other, such as time, energy, materials or money. For others it may be an increased effort to generate funds or a more focused concentration on discovering new sources of income. In some instances there may be a need to take responsibility, perhaps even to take on more responsibility, so that all we have is managed consciously, so that Auroville can grow harmoniously, even through times of difficulty. There are many forms of participation and collaboration that could foster the constant growth of consciousness and the progress to be made that all Aurovilians feel is needed for the development of our economic and social life.
Costs of Education in Auroville
Financially, education in Auroville is struggling. One major donor has been contributing for the past five years in the hope that recurring expenses such as the maintenance of teachers could be found from other sources of income, including grants and projects. Considering the information of the previous section on the Central Fund, there is no clear indication that the budget for the upcoming school year can be fully met. It has been suggested that as there is a team for raising funds for land, so there could be a team to explore possibilities specifically for finding more support for education and educational research. Parents and other interested people could be approached to initiate and set up such a fundraising body.
Substantial financial support over a period of time will be needed to manifest the dream of an educational society where all forms of research, experimentation and free-progress education are encouraged so as to build up the ideal of the learning society.
At the request of the Finance Committee of the Governing Board an Auroville Budget for the year 2002-2003 has been prepared and submitted. The Budget concerns exclusively the service and research sector of Auroville and is based on an extrapolation from the figures of income and expenditure for the year 2001-2002 based on the known intentions of the various fields of activity.
On the request of the Economy Group, a review of Auroville's economy from 1968 to the present has been undertaken by the Auroville Social Research Centre under the sponsorship of Stichting de Zaaier. In February of this year, a preliminary 'White Paper on Auroville's Economy' was presented by Professor Henk Thomas of the Netherlands and Mr. Manuel Thomas, a chartered accountant from Chennai who has analysed some 2000 Auroville balance sheets and formatted them in such away as to make them comparable. The paper concerns itself with the development and present situation of Auroville's commercial sector.
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