independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Full steam ahead for NAMA as President signs Bill

The NAMA bill will now be sent to the EU for approval

PRESIDENT Mary McAleese signed the NAMA legislation into law yesterday, allowing the bad bank to be up and running by the end of the year.

The NAMA Bill will now be sent to the EU for approval, but government officials were already working closely at European level through the drafting process so this is expected to also be a formality.

The signing of the Bill will pave the way for NAMA to be officially operating on a statutory basis by the end of the year.

It will allow for the agency to sign contracts with external companies to allow consultancy and valuation work to be done. Tendering for individual work has already been undertaken. The move will also allow the banks to start holding extraordinary general meetings to sanction their involvement in NAMA.

The Department of Finance welcomed the President's decision to sign the bill.

"It will be a vital step in resolving the difficulties in the financial system so the banks can lend to sustainable businesses and individuals," a spokesman said.

The President had until Tuesday night, when the seven-day period for consideration would have run out, to sign the legislation or refer it to the Supreme Court. Her approval of it ahead of the deadline is an obvious indication she doesn't envisage any legal difficulties arising.

Mrs McAleese had been urged by the Labour Party to at least call her panel of expert advisers on the Council of State together before signing the Bill.

But Labour's finance spokeswoman Joan Burton did not call for the bill to be sent to the Supreme Court.

Challenges

Government sources did not believe the legislation would be passed to the Supreme Court as the Bill was written in a way to avoid challenges being taken.

"The possibility of it being referred to the Supreme Court was low, given how it was written," a source said.

NAMA is not intended to affect the status of borrowers as terms and conditions on the loans are the same. Loans are bought and sold by banks all the time.

The banks are technically joining NAMA of their own free will, after they hold EGMs to agree the change.

Irish Independent

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