Coughlan: Toxic bank talks will be very difficult

TÁNAISTE Mary Coughlan warned that negotiations to iron out details of a new toxic debt agency will be very difficult.

Speaking at the announcement of 100 new jobs in Cork yesterday, the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment refused to be drawn on specific details of the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), set up under this week’s supplementary budget to rid the banks of bad debt.

Its terms and the specifics of how much debt it will take on have yet to be announced, but bad debt is thought to be in the region of e90 billion.

When pressed on whether NAMA would take on debt incurred by individual investment property speculators, the minister said it was up to the agency and the Government to decide.

She said the decision would be taken by NAMA in consultation with the National Treasury Management Association (NTMA) and the Department of Finance, and it was more appropriate to leave it to that agency to deal with in the best possible way.

“We must await the decision of the Government, who will over the next number of weeks be working with NAMA and the NTMA to deal with this.” She said NAMA would value the debts and make decisions to manage them accordingly.

“It is not going to be easy. It will be very difficult.”

The Tánaiste stressed that the move was not a bailout for developers and the banks, and that NAMA was vital to ensure the country could have access to credit.

“This is not a bailout. It does not mean people don’t have to pay back debt. We have to cleanse the banks’ balance sheets in order to free up credit.”

The Tánaiste went on to welcome 100 new jobs at Big Fish Games, an online and entertainment company which is establishing its European headquarters at City Gate Business Park in Mahon, Cork city.

She said it was part of a new sector emerging in the economy. “Online media is hugely important and once you attract one you can attract many more.

“We have Google and Facebook and I am travelling to the US next week to meet client companies to attract them here on the basis of our talent pool, languages and skills.”

Ms Coughlan signalled that research and development was the way forward for the economy.

“R&D is the best way we can express the view that Ireland is a good place to do business.”


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