Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has called on the Government to ensure NAMA does not engage in hasty firesales of assets in 2014 which could potentially lose potential future profits for the Irish taxpayer. Doherty was responding to reports carried by Bloomberg which claim that NAMA will seek to sell portfolios valued at €250 million or more in each quarter of this year.
“NAMA's remit has always been to manage property and loans until they reached optimal value for the Irish taxpayer and it has until 2020 to do this. The original commitment from NAMA was not to engage in firesales because this could lose money for the taxpayer, who both paid for these bad loans when they were purchased from the Irish banks; and then recapitalised those banks when the bad loan losses were realised.
“I am concerned at reports from Bloomberg today that NAMA is considering selling off portfolios worth over a quarter of a billion in each three months of 2014. This would be the largest asset disposal of its kind - yet the Minister for Finance remains hands-off when it comes to monitoring NAMA activities.
“We know that the property market is starting to turn around in parts. But we are seeing small ripples of recovery, not waves. Jumping too early, and disposing of large portfolios of assets without scrutiny could cause serious losses for the taxpayer in potential future profits.
“It has always been Sinn Féin's view that it's not enough for NAMA just to break even. The agency must make a profit to compensate the taxpayer for having recapitalised the banks on the other side of those bad loans being removed.
“In addition, I am quite conscious that NAMA remains a key supporter of jobs across the island. It supports 2,000 jobs in the North where it is planning a mass portfolio disposal. It also has at its discretion funding to enable the completion of projects which can of course have social and economic value and which the Government could play a greater role in directing.
“We all want to see the taxpayer benefit from the property price turnaround, but NAMA should not be jumping at the first sign of recovery, but instead be strategically weighing up its options and ensuring the ultimate value for the taxpayer is achieved.”