‘Stop debating NAMA and get it started’

THE political process surrounding the Government’s NAMA plan should now focus on fine-tuning the proposals and getting it started, rather than debating the need for it, according to one overseas banking figure.

“This issue is all new to everyone. There are different ways to deal with the whole ‘good bank’/’bad bank’ strategy and it can’t be fairly said that the NAMA project is any better or worse than any other attempt previously made,” said Basil Geoghegan, managing director of Deutsche Bank in London, during a break in proceedings at Farmleigh over the weekend.

Dublin-born Mr Geoghegan is responsible for Deutsche’s British and Irish clients and is co-chair of the Ireland Fund of Great Britain. Regarding NAMA, he said that with no real credible alternative on the table, criticism of the Government’s plans to effectively cleanse the loan books of the main Irish banks was misplaced.

“While it’s hard to be precise on something which is very difficult to do; it does seem to be taking a very long period to implement.

“So, the criticism, if any, on this should be with regard to the amount of time it has taken the Government to get this far, rather than on what they are actually proposing.

“In Britain and the US, the governments are looking at the best ways of exiting their positions in the banks, while here we’re still talking about government investment in them,” Mr Geoghegan added.

“The Government seems to have the confidence, in that it knows what it has to do to try and make the economy vibrant again.

“However, this is all about getting it done and that calls for speed and quality of execution and those things are still open issues,” he said.

Regarding the risk of banks simply returning to old habits of irresponsible lending, down the line, and this whole problem returning; Mr Geoghegan said improved financial regulation and more responsible behaviour on behalf of the banks, themselves, would be needed.

On that note, the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, later this week, will have financial regulation on the top of its agenda in a bid to avoid another global economic meltdown after the current one runs its course.


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