Belfast Telegraph

Nama a flawed idea, says report

A REPORT commissioned by a construction industry body in the Republic said the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) was "a flawed idea and a failure" which contributed to the need for the IMF/EU bailout.

The report commissioned by the Construction Industry Federation looks at Nama a year after it was set up and recommends improvements that could help the agency to fulfil its mandate.

More than £3.3bn of Nama loans are secured on assets in Northern Ireland.

The key recommendation of the report, which is compiled by Lombard Research, is that Nama should operate as a developer and not just a liquidator.

By acting as a liquidator, the report said Nama was "destroying value" at a time when it was crucial to try to put a floor under property prices to stop the downward spiral in values.

It warns: "The current position undermines values and prolongs the uncertainty over the Irish real estate sector, thus exacerbating the losses that may ultimately be suffered by the Irish taxpayer."

The report is also critical of Nama's policy of pursuing debtors for "every cent" they owe.

It says that approach could deny a return to the taxpayers because it could reject bids that do not cover the full nominal loan value, leading to a 'fire-sale' of assets in the future when a better price may not be received.

The report also argues that Nama should also drop its objective of radically restructuring the Irish construction industry.

Ireland will need a viable construction industry and attempting a root and branch restructuring is not in the country's long-term interest, it claims.

A Nama spokesman rejected the report's findings and said it was "flawed and one-sided".

"The CIF has engaged in regular criticism of the agency since it was first conceived.

"That criticism has been grounded in a naive expectation by the CIF that Nama would protect the developers and the broader construction sector from the impact of the excesses of the property bubble and its subsequent collapse in which some members of the CIF played a significant role."

Nama is bound to implement a policy set out by the Oireachtas and approved by the EU Commission. It added, "This specifically requires NAMA to deal with borrowers and banks holistically so that they cannot walk away from the consequences of their poor decision-making and continue to profit from those investments which are profitable or performing."

CIF director of housing and planning, Hubert Fitzpatrick, said the views expressed in the report were those of its authors, Gabriel Stern and Michael Taylor.

A number of substantive issues have been raised in the report that the industry is anxious should be addressed with Nama, he said.