Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD said today that an independent analysis should be undertaken concerning NAMA’s future. Doherty said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan could not decide the future of a multi-billion euro body off his own bat and that NAMA alone cannot make such a decision without the input of others.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Last night, Minister Noonan told the Dail Finance Committee that he has asked NAMA to see if it can use its asset base to control rapidly rising property prices, especially in Dublin. He also said he has also asked NAMA to review its operations and examine the option of winding down the agency faster than its 2020 deadline.
“A few short weeks ago, we saw NAMA firesale its entire North of Ireland loan book. I believe that despite the Minister’s claims of neutrality, he appears to be favouring a faster disposal of NAMA assets. This latest reference to NAMA being able to curtail property prices is the manifestation of the Minister wanting NAMA to wind up.
“If the Minister is concerned about rising property prices, he needs to answer why he allowed Finance Bill 2013 establish Real Estate Investment Trusts, which hold properties to maximise rental values. He also needs to answer why his Government has not concentrated more efforts on addressing the housing crisis through social housing and other means. And he must answer why, despite the upward effect they have on property prices, his Government has not abolished upward only rent reviews, as promised in the Fine Gael and Labour manifestos.
“NAMA has six years left in which to responsibly dispose of its assets, ensuring the taxpayer receives the maximum return for them. I am concerned if it winds up too quickly NAMA will not attain the maximum value for its loans. Firesales could also actually damage property prices conversely, by driving them down to equally unsustainable levels.
“Nobody wants to see a bubble develop in property prices again. However, prices, while rising, are still roughly 50% below peak in Dublin in particular. There’s no doubt in my mind they will rise a little further. The issue at stake here is whether NAMA avails of that price rise, or the vulture capitalists who swoop in and buy up the agency’s holdings at bargain basement prices.
“We need an independent assessment of NAMA’s options for the future, which should then be made public as far as possible. I do not believe NAMA should undertake one without wider input, and I do not believe the Minister should decide NAMA’s future on his own either.”