Sunday 24 September 2017

Nama could be repurposed as a development agency

Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh
Nama CEO Brendan McDonagh
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Plans are being developed to redesign Nama as an agency capable of developing lands on behalf of the State.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has revealed the Government is looking at the possibility of getting the National Asset Management Agency “to step in where the private sector has failed”.

The announcement was made in an off-script remark during his opening address at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party think-in in Tipperary.

Mr Varadkar said the Government understand the stress faced by people without a home as well as those struggling to buy one. 

“In 2012 some people said we would never get on top of the jobs crisis, as unemployment hit 15pc, but we did.  We will bring the same determination and focus to solving the housing crisis,” he said.

He indicated that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will shortly announce changes to planning regulations “so we can make it more affordable to build apartments in our towns and cities and more affordable for people to buy them”.

The idea of Nama being used as a development agency has been floated in the past but was always dismissed by ministers.

Nama, which was set up to manage distressed assets on behalf of the State during the economic crisis, is due to conclude is work in 2020.

In a wide ranging speech to TDs and senators, Mr Varadkar outlined his vision for a ‘Republic of Opportunity’.

“The Republic of Opportunity is not a slogan or empty PR.  It is a way of thinking about how to improve people’s lives and we’re only getting started,” he said.

In relation to the Budget, Mr Vardakr said: “Next month, for the first time in ten years, we will publish a budget that will balance the books.

“We do this because we have not and will not repeat the mistakes of the past – not our mistakes, but the mistakes of others.”

He added: “We will back business, farmers and enterprise.  High taxes on the middle classes are a barrier to opportunity and to work.  They are a cap on aspiration and there should be no cap on aspiration in the Republic we wish to build.”

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