NAMA has this morning confirmed that it is not paying business rates on its Dublin headquarters at Treasury Buildings on Grand Canal Street in south Dublin Docklands. The Agency has been granted an exemption under section 15(3) of the Valuation Act 2011 which states
“(3) Subject to section 16 , relevant property, being a building or part of a building, land or a waterway or a harbour directly occupied by the State (including any land or building occupied by any Department or office of State, the Defence Forces or the Garda Síochána or used as a prison or place of detention), shall not be rateable.”
In other words, NAMA is conveniently playing the state card again. Eurostat decided that NAMA was not an arm of government in 2009 and that consequently, the €30bn of state-guaranteed bonds issued by NAMA to buy loans from the banks would not come onto the national debt. NAMA has redeemed €3.25bn of its senior bonds today but the extant €27bn would represent 17% of the nominal 2011 GDP of €158.993bn.
NAMA competes with other organisations in this State – Certus might be regarded as its main competitor but Ulster Bank and ACC Bank and the rump of Bank of Scotland are also private sector competitors trying to flog loans and properties which are legacies of the property boom in the mid 2000s. Certus won’t be able to claim an exemption on rates on its St Stephen’s Green headquarters which really places NAMA at a competitive advantage to private sector organisations – no wonder NAMA can offer staple finance at such competitive rates!
There are about 220 NAMA staff working from Treasury Buildings, the Agency spent €800,000 on “lease improvements” in 2011 and the annual rent is approximately €1m.
It is understood that Dublin City Council had previously proposed that NAMA should pay rates but NAMA appealed that “proposal” to the Valuations Tribunal and the Commissioner of Valuation has indicated that it will not be defending that appeal and it accepts that the Agency should be entered as List Not Rateable pursuant to Section 15(3) of the Valuation Act 2001.