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Nama will hinder recovery, business experts warn

NAMA will pose one of the biggest obstacles to Ireland's economic recovery if its operations are not radically overhauled by the new Government.

That's just one of the key conclusions outlined in a discussion document to be submitted to Taoiseach Enda Kenny by Ireland First -- a high-powered group of the country's most successful businesspeople who came together last autumn to try to think of ways to restore Ireland's economic fortunes.

The Sunday Independent understands the group, which includes billionaire businessman Dermot Desmond; Goldman Sachs International chairman Peter Sutherland; Glen Dimplex chief executive Sean O'Driscoll; telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien; former Bank of Ireland chief Mike Soden; and former Finance Minister Ray MacSharry, signed off on what it proposes as its 'Blueprint for Recovery' within the past week.

The completed document, which sources say took a total of 1,000 man hours to prepare, is expected to be submitted to the new Government shortly with a request for a series of meetings to discuss its proposals on Nama, job creation, competitiveness, health, and political reform.

Not surprisingly, Ireland's property-related problems are expected to be to the fore in any discussions that take place.

Commenting specifically on Ireland First's position on Nama to the Sunday Independent, an informed source close to group said: "Nama has over €70bn in taxpayers' funds tied up. We need to move as a matter of urgency to identify where this agency has properties around the world and decide what needs to be sold now to recover that money for the State.

"Where the timing for a sale isn't right, the potential for rental income has to be realised and channelled into the real economy immediately."

Outside of Nama's remit, but still in the area of property, the same source said the new Government needed to move to end the uncertainty surrounding the future of upward-only rent reviews for commercial premises. Under the Programme for Government, the Coalition has given its commitment to end upward-only rent reviews for existing leases.

Commenting on this, the source said: "The rent review issue has to be addressed now. The uncertainty surrounding this is having a serious and direct impact on our potential to attract foreign direct investment. Nobody wants to put their money into commercial property in a country where the goalposts can be moved overnight."

It is understood that the co-chairs of Ireland First -- One 51 chief executive Philip Lynch and Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins -- will lead the various delegations once meetings can be agreed with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Government.

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