Oral Questions – Finance – NAMA and Repossessions

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Clare submitted questions on NAMA and house repossessions to the Minister for Finance this week. Unfortunately they weren’t selected from the lottery for debate on the floor of the House, but you can read his written responses below.

QUESTION NO:  15
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 23/06/2016

To ask the Minister for Finance if he has full confidence in the operation of the National Asset Management Agency, particularly following recent developments in relation to those involved with Project Eagle; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY.

NAMA’s continued progress is evident in the recently published 2015 Annual Report and Accounts. NAMA’s results highlight the continued achievements of NAMA and the positive impact NAMA is having on Ireland’s sustained recovery in carrying out its mandate both in terms of debt redemption, the delivery of the Dublin Docklands SDZ and the commercial funding of residential housing delivery.

NAMA’s continued strong performance since inception means that Board now expects to achieve a surplus of up to €2.3bn over its life, subject to market conditions, which will be returned to State.

I commend NAMA on its work to date and I have full confidence in NAMA’s Board.

Regarding the Deputy’s reference to recent developments –   I reiterate that, despite all the confusion and conflation in the coverage of this matter, it remains the case that allegations of wronging have not been directed at NAMA. All known allegations of wrongdoing are currently being investigated by the appropriate authorities.  We support these investigations and stand ready to assist in any way that is helpful and should remain careful not to compromise these investigations in any way.

The most notable investigation is being carried out by the UK National Crime Agency   a criminal investigation by the appropriate authorities in the appropriate jurisdiction.  Importantly, NAMA advise me that the NCA has confirmed that no aspect of the Agency’s activities are under investigation.

NAMA also have appeared twice before the Public Accounts Committee  to discuss Project Eagle.  Based on recent comments of the PAC Chairman, I understand NAMA may soon appear for a third time to discuss these issues.  In that context the C&AG are conducting a value for money review of Project Eagle which will be published and discussed in due course.  A report such as this should not be rushed and should allow the C&AG the time required to conduct a fair and balanced examination of the issues in forming his opinions.

If appropriate lines of inquiry do arise which could usefully be pursued they will be brought forward for consideration.  However, I do  not believe that it is appropriate to launch an investigation based purely on speculation.

QUESTION NO:  38
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 23/06/2016

To ask the Minister for Finance if he believes that the framework agreement between the State and the banks is fit for purpose, given the numbers and manner in which re-possession cases have been handled; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY.

The Relationship Framework documents for AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB were specified and published in March 2012, while Permanent TSB’s was also amended on 23 April 2015.

The framework documents, which generally formed part of the recapitalisation agreements, define the relationship between the Minister and the relevant institution. These documents are drafted and structured to ensure that the institutions will operate on a commercial basis and independent of the Minister in respect of their day to day operations. The role of the Minister is also set out and reflects his shareholding in the relevant institution and also the other support provided to that institution.

As a result the Minister has no statutory function in relation to the day to day banking decisions made by individual lending institutions at any particular time and these are taken by the board and management of the relevant institution.

However from a general policy perspective, the approach of the Government is to support people in genuine mortgage arrears and where feasible, to put in place a sustainable restructure to address and resolve such a difficulty. This is clearly set out in the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears where it requires a lender in respect of a cooperating borrower to explore all of the options for an alternative repayment arrangement offered by that lender and that a lender must document its consideration of each option examined and the reasons why the options offered or not offered to the borrower are, or are not appropriate and sustainable.

If a solution cannot be agreed between borrower and lender, or if it is agreed that a mortgage restructure is not a sustainable solution, there are alternative mechanisms available to allow a debtor remain in the house in appropriate cases. For example, the Mortgage to Rent scheme is available in cases where the house and household would be appropriate and eligible for social housing. Where the borrower and lender cannot agree on a sustainable mortgage restructure, the debtor has the option to formulate and propose a PIA to his/her secured and other creditor(s). This initiative rests solely with the debtor and in formulating a PIA, a personal insolvency practitioner is under an onus, insofar as is reasonably practicable, to formulate the proposal on terms that will not require the debtor to dispose of an interest in or cease to occupy a principal private residence.