If I were Frank Daly, the NAMA Chairman, opening up the Sunday Independent this morning I would probably be choking on my granola at the headline: “NAMA: the truth it’s a bailout for developers”. Based solely on a couple of sentences from his speech last Thursday at the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland lunch, where he said that NAMA’s “core objective will be to recover for the taxpayers whatever it has paid for the loans in addition to whatever it has invested to enhance property assets underlying those loans. It is expected that Nama will have a lifespan of seven to ten years and when it has achieved its core objective, it will be wound up”, this, according to the Independent, is proof positive that NAMA will abandon the pursuit of developers for the original loan and call off the chase as soon as the sum paid by NAMA has been recovered. And elite developers will continue to fly overhead wolfing down Beef Wellingtons (with truffles), champagne and fine wines as they go, on their way back from the K-Club to the helipad of their trophy house on Ailesbury Road etc etc
I think on balance that the Independent’s interpretation is wrong and that Frank simply used ill-judged language. The draft NAMA Business Plan in October 2009 after all clearly showed the recovery of more than NAMA would pay for the loans. However I don’t think Frank would be justified in feeling too aggrieved at the “damned medja” – if NAMA had produced a robust, defensible and transparent Business Plan then there would be no vagueness about the objectives (core or otherwise). And whilst NAMA may now need to go into overdrive to clarify Frank’s comments (which will distract from the work at hand), the Department of Finance might again consider how NAMA’s secrecy and lack of transparency may undermine public confidence on a widespread, and significant, basis.