Saturday 16 December 2017

Noonan puts his faith in agency's ability to fulfil his ambitious agenda

Frank Daly and Michael Noonan
Frank Daly and Michael Noonan
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

HAVING symbolised Ireland's property sector crash, NAMA is now attempting to reinvent itself as a potential catalyst for significant development across parts of Dublin.

The toxic loans agency will claim part of the purpose of the so-called bad bank was always to help kickstart economic recovery

But positioning itself to tackle the capital's acute housing shortage and help radically develop Dublin's Docklands appears a far cry from its original mandate of stabilising the crisis-hit Irish banking system.

Arguably, it's fair to say that not since Luke Gardiner has there been such a force potentially capable of placing its stamp on such a large swathe of the capital city.

History buffs among you will know Gardiner was an influential 18th century figure who led the development of a large part of Dublin's eastern northside areas close to the Liffey.

NAMA has been challenged to help reinvigorate the Docklands area to ensure it becomes a major waterfront location sporting prime office, shops and residential units that would rival London's international financial hub, Canary Wharf, Boston's Seaport or Singapore's Marina Bay. Hamburg has also seen a vast waterfront redevelopment project.

NAMA has also pledged to help plug the housing supply crisis in Dublin that has helped give a boost to those in negative equity, but has created huge difficulties for young couples trying to find a suitable family home.

It has promised to work with developers and receivers to ensure that sites can be established and completed with 3,000 properties apparently shovel-ready across the capital.

The question is does it have the resources and the expertise needed to meet its ambitious mandate?

Yes, says Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

"It has the potential to do that, it has the money to do that and it has the expertise to do that," the minister said.

And if needed, incentives could be provided to help attract and retain the talent required, Mr Noonan signalled.

Chairman Frank Daly (pictured) has already floated the possibility of having a performance retention plan to stem a potential brain drain to the private sector.

NAMA is well on track to meet its objectives, and potentially exceed them.

It paid €32bn to purge Irish banks of €74bn of risky loans. About €13bn, or 43pc of its debt, has been repaid. By the end of this year, it will have 50pc repaid. By the end of 2016, it plans to have 80pc repaid, two years ahead of schedule.

It's in everyone's interests that this new mandate can be achieved with the same level of success.

Irish Independent

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