The Government made significant cuts to the level of pay for the chair and board members of Nama because the agency is in “wind down” mode.
The fee payable to the chairperson of the National Asset Management Agency has been decreased from €150,000 per year to €100,000, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
It will be further cut to €45,000 from the beginning of next year with the new annual rate of €100,000 already applying to Nama’s recently appointed chairman, Aidan Williams.
Fees for ordinary board members have also been chopped by almost a quarter, and have been reduced from €50,000 to €38,000 since January 1.
The cuts were quietly made on foot of an instruction from Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who said the decreases were now considered “appropriate”.
In a letter to the agency, Mr Donohoe explained how fees for members of Nama had been put in place in 2012 and have been unchanged since.
He wrote: “The levels of fee payable reflected the extensive workload required of Nama at that time and beyond.
“When last revising the fee levels, it was highlighted that the fees payable to the Nama board were exceptional in the context of State Boards generally and could only be justified as a temporary measure.”
Mr Donohoe said the high rate of payment reflected the “exceptional responsibilities and excessive workload of the Nama board in its early years of operation”.
He explained that “in the context of the wind down”, it was appropriate to review the level of fees payable.
Mr Donohoe said this would better reflect the future workload of Nama and that the new rates were being set to make them “commensurate” with other large state organisations such as the National Treasury Management Agency.
The cuts were to be implemented in two phases, one in January of this year and a second next January.
Ordinary board members have therefore seen their fees cuts by €12,000 to €38,000 since January 1, with a further reduction to €30,000 next year.
The chairperson of the credit committee will also have their pay decreased to an additional €5,000 per year on top of the standard amount payable to an ordinary board member.
Additional fee payments for the chairs of other committees were ceased on January 1 while fees for external members of committees were allowed to remain at current levels.
Mr Donohoe concluded in his letter: “Nothing in this sanction should be taken as indicating that this level of fees will be the default position for future years.”
A spokesman for Nama confirmed that the changes had been made on January 1. “Nama has implemented the arrangements approved by the minister,” he said.
Nama was supposed to have been fully wound down in 2021 but its role was extended last summer for an additional five-year period.
As part of a plan to maximise the return for the taxpayer, the agency was given until 2025 to work through a small amount of residual loans and ongoing litigation.
At the time, Mr Donohoe said this would be done by a “a much reduced NAMA team”.
The decision to extend its role was also approved by the European Commission under EU state aid roles.