Belfast Telegraph

Nama puts spending watchdog under strain

By Emmet Oliver

The sheer size of Nama and the resources needed to audit the loan agency has placed a strain on the spending watchdog, it has emerged.

The Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) was asked last year by the Irish Government to add Nama and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority to its remit, but had to seek an additional budget allocation to cope with the demands of auditing Nama.

The office, headed by John Buckley, made an application to the Department of Finance for separate resources after its existing budget couldn't absorb the costs of Nama. The increased budget line was not disclosed.

Nama, set up in December 2009, has paid €30.5bn for property loans from across the banking sector, making it the largest single owner of property in the state. The agency will operate like all state bodies and have its annual accounts and financial statements audited by the C&AG, which has so far brought out one report on the agency last November.

In an update given to the Government on its own targets, the C&AG refers to an increase in its workload as the number of state agencies rises.

"In the past decade, there was a significant net increase in the number of audits assigned to the office, as the number of state agencies in existence increased,'' says its corporate report, passed to government recently.

"The office has, as far as possible, sought to absorb the increased financial audit demands through generating operating efficiencies,'' it states.

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