Noonan approved Nama redundancy top-ups
Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30
Finance Minister Michael Noonan gave his blessing to a scheme which will see departing Nama staff paid up to €30,000 on top of their redundancies.
The controversial payments - dubbed "bonuses" by the head of the Dáil's spending watchdog - could amount to €6.5m by the time the agency is wound down.
According to a senior Department of Finance official, Mr Noonan agreed to the scheme, but insisted on certain conditions regarding the amount payable and when the payments can be made.
The payments are designed to entice certain staff not to quit Nama before their agreed redundancy date. Some 167 staff are expected to leave the agency during the course of 2016.
Nama has insisted the payments are not bonuses, which the agency is barred from paying under emergency financial measures legislation.
According to the department's secretary general, Derek Moran, the "retention payments" will amount to 20pc of an employee's base salary, capped at €30,000.
Mr Moran provided details about the scheme in a briefing document for the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC), after it raised a number of questions at a hearing last December.
At that hearing, PAC chairman John McGuinness described the payments as "bonuses" and said "an extraordinary amount of money" was involved.
But Mr Moran said he expected payments under the scheme would range from €6,000 to €30,000. He said the payments would be subject to normal employment taxes, with the highest net payout after deductions being about €14,000.
The payment will be made on top of a staff member's redundancy lump sum.
The Nama redundancy scheme will see staff get three weeks' pay per year of service plus two weeks' statutory per year of service, with the total capped at two years' base pay.
When combined, the redundancy payments and retention payments could amount to €20m, the briefing document stated.
Mr Moran said that in agreeing to the "retention" scheme, Mr Noonan had insisted on certain conditions. These included limits on the sums payable.
Nama must also reach certain targets for the payments to be made.
"This retention payment only applies in certain circumstances, where staff members are being made redundant, have met all required performance standards, and have remained with Nama for the period required to fulfil the agency's statutory mandate," he said.
"This should not be confused with other retention schemes, whereby staff receive payments during their ongoing employment by an organisation.
"Nama has made no such payments since its inception and this scheme only applies when a staff member is made redundant at Nama's discretion."