Thursday 23 November 2017

State agencies in spotlight after billions blunder

Emmet Oliver

THE Housing Finance Agency is a state-owned company which borrows money on the markets and then lends it on to local authorities all over the country for the purposes of housing.

The agency was set up in 1982 and it is effectively an arm of the Department of the Environment.

It lends to local authorities for a whole range of schemes, sometimes for social housing, sometimes for traditional local authority housing and sometimes to help those on low incomes. In 2010 the agency lent €396m in total.

The money it lends is either repaid by householders themselves or by local authorities. The loans are usually charged at rates below those offered by banks, but there are strict rules about who can qualify for loans offered by local authorities.

The agency lends to 42 local authorities under a variety of schemes and structures. Housing associations -- which provide housing to those on low incomes or those on welfare -- can also apply for funding.

According to its annual report: "The agency's policy is to keep its interest rates at the lowest possible level.''

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) is a very different kind of agency. It manages the State's borrowing requirements. It has no role in how much is borrowed, but has a role in how this money is raised. The agency also has direct responsibility for other assets owned by the State, including the funds in the National Pension Reserve Fund.

Irish Independent

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