The Government’s desire to close the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) early must not present the opportunity for certain debtors to be left off the hook.
That is according to Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath who was responding to the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan confirming that it is Nama’s aim to reduce its current workforce of 370 to 60 in three years.
In a separate written Dáil reply, Mr Noonan stated that Nama is currently involved in 174 active litigation cases, including 31 cases in which Nama is the defendant and 143 cases initiated by Nama.
On the plans to reduce staffing levels, Mr Noonan said that based on its end-2016 80% senior debt redemption target and its ongoing ancillary funding and co-ordination role in the Dublin Dockland’s Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) and in respect of residential development, the Nama Board estimates that staffing levels will reduce from 370 at end-2014 to 125 at the start of 2017 and 60 at the start of 2018.
Mr Noonan said: “These figures include projected legal staff requirements to deal with extant litigation at that time.”
He added: “These projected staffing levels are subject to ongoing review by the Nama Board and to revision in light of changes to the agency’s strategy.
In response, Mr McGrath said: “There are still huge sums of money the subject of legal disputes which Nama will need to vigorously pursue even after the bulk of its assets are sold and it is in its wind-down phase.
He added: “Complex cases around the transfer of assets offshore or to connected parties are likely to take considerable time to resolve and it is vital Nama retains sufficient legal and technical expertise to maximise its return to the taxpayer.
“The Government’s desire to close Nama early must not present the opportunity for certain debtors to be left off the hook because of any political imperative to get rid of Nama,” Mr McGrath said.
It is understood that staff at Nama will be in line for redundancy payments of around €34,000 each as the agency slashes job numbers by two-thirds over the next two years.
The redundancy packages will include three weeks’ pay per year of service, plus two weeks’ statutory redundancy per year, although this is capped at €600 a week.
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