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updated February '03

Economy Task Group (ETG)

 

 

 

 

- as reported in AVNews

Several members of the Economic Task Group came to the FAMC to give a report on their activities over the last 10 months. The group introduction emphasized that there was no unanimity among the group with regard to the proposals presented and that thus, one general recommendation would be to encourage different economic models to be experimented with at the same time.

Gradual emergence of ideal system

The first presenter spoke about the present situation in which different economic models were operating simultaneously in Auroville, and that it wasn't possible to go straight to the ideal system but that it should be allowed to emerge. The question to be answered is how do we pass from where we are to where we are supposed to go. In the present system individuals work to earn money to have the freedom to choose among a variety of goods and services. The ideal system would be one in which the individual would be provided his material base and be left to work according to his nature. In this model no circulation of money would be necessary. It was proposed that we observe carefully what is emerging, to consolidate the results and learn from this study rather than taking an exclusivist approach.

Budget driven economy?

The next presentation concerned the Central Fund. The question was posed, "What have we done to control expenses in Auroville?" The idea was proposed that our economy should be budget driven to ensure fiscal discipline. This would help each activity to determine how much money it needs and to be clear about what it wants. This will allow clear choices to be made. At this point the community isn't able to discern the true cost of an activity. There is a lack of transparency regarding actual costs. For example a more realistic actual cost of maintaining an Aurovilian is about Rs 9,000 per month. It was suggested that when looking at budgets or fundraising that a more realistic figure for maintaining Aurovilians needs to be used. Finally it was emphasized that those Central Fund activities that can generate income be encouraged to do so.

Need for more collective spirit

The next presenter spoke about the need for a more collective spirit by recognising and feeling that Auroville maintains us. We are already using a unit of account in our internal accounting system, which are not Rupees. This unit of account needs to be re-named and its properties defined. Also we need to open a new fund for the channeling of the maintenances of all Aurovilians.

Need for more freedom

The fourth presentation concerned the need of businesses to have more freedom in how they attract capital. New ways need to be found to promote business, for start-ups to flourish, and for resources to be gathered without individuals having to invest all of their personal savings. There are for example already some places in Auroville where people from outside come and give money and energy and in return receive a highly valued experience. This type of breathing in of people, energy, and money and breathing out of individuals who have had a new experience needs to be generated in more areas of Auroville as it nourishes the activities here.

Feedback from FAMC members

  • Need for realistic figures
    The members were thanked for all of their hard work. One view was that the main problem is that we don't agree on a common vision or process in the economic groups. A recommendation was made to the Economic Task Group to be specific and clear when going to the community. It was proposed that since the difference between what is disbursed and the real cost to maintain an Aurovilian is so large that next time maintenances are discussed with the Government the higher figure be used.
  • Alternative business forms
    It was also proposed to call the money paid in cash to Aurovilians 'pocket money' and the rest of the maintenance to be called a 'general maintenance'. The need to explore structures other than the Trust in the field of business was mentioned. A paper on alternate business forms is to be circulated and added to the agenda.
  • Need for clear assessment
    It was expressed that care must be taken as to who is allowed to become a unit holder; that the people and their skills must be known in order to help assess if they will help or hurt Auroville. It was also expressed that there is never enough money in the collective pot to provide the minimum to people let alone to do experiments.
  • Need for transparency
    Most funds generated in Auroville are held and utilized in a decentralized way and do not pass through the Central Fund. If we don't look at how we generate money and at our level of transparency we will never be able to attract funds from outside.
  • Collective fabric is loosening
    There needs to be a drive within the community to do things together and to pool our resources. The collective fabric is becoming looser rather than stronger. People feel that they have to stand on their own because there is no collective support.

It was recommended that the Economic Task Group should postpone going directly to the community. When the idea of an economic seminar was suggested, it was commented that the seminar of two years ago, although suggesting similar ideas and achieving agreement on them, did not result in those agreements being implemented. It was suggested that a more effective method should be found. In essence the feedback of the FAMC was that in interacting with the community regarding economic proposals a great detail and clarity is required, and a method of approach is required that would result in the implementation of the proposals. The report sent to the FAMC by the Economic Task Group can be found elsewhere in this AV News.

Contact: economy@auroville.org.in 

 

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