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April 01

 

Releasing the Aurose

- by Carel


Olivier

Olivier, who has been an Aurovilian for the past 12 years and who heads Auroville's cheese factory at La Ferme, explains the scope of the Aurose, the new complementary exchange system to be used within Auroville.



Almost all financial transactions in Auroville go through the Auroville Maintenance Fund. This has minimised the need for pure cash payments within Auroville. Most Aurovilians and Auroville units have an account.

A few years ago the Economy Group introduced for each Aurovilian who receives a community maintenance two types of account, a 'kind' and a 'cash' account. The portion of one's maintenance put in the 'cash account' can be withdrawn. The balance is put on the 'kind account,' which is exclusively used to electronically pay for purchases made within Auroville such as groceries from the Pour Tous stall and meals at the Solar Kitchen, or for services billed through Auroville units such as telephone, electricity etc. Money from the kind account cannot be withdrawn as cash.

As a first step towards introducing a complementary exchange system - which in Auroville would be called "Free-Flow" - it is proposed that the double accounting be extended to include all Aurovilians, Auroville units and others who now have only a cash account. The 'kind' account will be renamed 'the Aurose account'. The name "Aurose" comes from the combination of the words Auroville and Rose. The rose is the flower whose inner truth, Mother said, is Love. It was decided that the name Aurose would be a beautiful symbol for internal exchanges as ultimately it is love we are trying to convey through all our exchanges. There is no plural of Aurose as it expresses the totality of the energy and creativity of the Auroville community. Aurose, also, is not a currency, a coin or value note; it is just the name for how we track our internal energy exchange through an electronic means of transfer.

The second step is that the form of the monthly statements of account that each Aurovilian and unit receive will slowly change so as to make the Aurovilians aware of where the products and services they use come from. In future, the Aurose statement will show clearly which products come from Auroville and which from outside. In this way, a beginning will be made to create clarity on the flow of goods and services within Auroville. It is very important to understand that when we buy from each other we maintain each other with means that would otherwise have to be earned in hard cash from outside. We become more self-maintained, self-sustained.

A next step will be to stimulate the production of goods and services for use within Auroville. Nearly all of Auroville's commercial units are oriented to the making of profit, which they, to a considerable degree, share with Auroville. But an economy in which we produce for the outside to earn money that is distributed to Aurovilians who in their turn spend it outside of Auroville, is not a viable economy in the long run and now we face the consequences of this trend. We propose that the units who choose to join the experiment make their products available to the Aurovilians at cost-price (the price of raw material, labour, loan reimbursements and depreciation, but excluding reserves for future developments) and that the amount of the profit they lose by not selling the product outside will be booked in their accounts as a donation to Auroville. Thus, the totality of a unit's donation to Auroville will consist of a cash donation as at present, plus the donation of the 'profit loss' that they have by supplying their products at cost price to Auroville. In this way, there will be no loss for the unit. Rather, there will be a stimulus to gradually produce more for internal consumption as the unit's products will become affordable to the Aurovilians and the unit will effectively contribute to the ideal of Auroville becoming a self-supporting township. In addition, there will be a study of how interest-free loans can be made available to new or existing units for the creation of products for Auroville.

The units and projects who choose to join the experiment will be paid for the products they supply to Auroville on their 'Aurose' account. The units will use their Aurose account in the same way as an individual Aurovilian, except that the unit can transfer both the Aurose and cash components of the maintenance given to Aurovilians working for the unit directly into their respective Aurose and cash accounts.
In case the unit accumulates too many Aurose and needs to obtain rupees, the Financial Service will exchange the unit's Aurose for rupees by debiting the Aurose account and crediting the cash account. The parity will be one Aurose for one rupee.
The Aurose can also play a role in solving the problem of Aurovilians who are under-maintained. At present, apart from their regular work for which they get a maintenance, many Aurovilians take up voluntary, unpaid work for the community such as teaching or gardening or supervising the maintenance of the community in which they live. Although this is a wonderful way to offer service for people who have sufficient means, there is no reason why this work could not be compensated in Aurose for those who struggle to make ends meet, particularly if the extra work could be a means towards a decent maintenance to be spent in Auroville.

Gradually over the next two, five or ten years, we can expect that Aurose will facilitate a lot of exchanges based on the use of Auroville's own resources and thereby promote increased prosperity for all. When we have sufficient experience with Aurose, we could even consider creating more Aurose to stimulate internal production by sponsoring the creation of new units, or expanding production of old units so that more products actually needed by Aurovilians are produced, and for the building of the city. It is envisaged that in the long run the Aurose will become superfluous because if there is enough for everyone, we can do away with the Aurose. And then we will have that economy Mother spoke of, with no exchange of money, each individual giving of his or her capacities, and the city maintaining them.

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