Within 24 hours, I had a phone call from Mr. Martin Whelan, Relationship Manager with NAMA, looking to set up a meeting with Mr. Brendan McDonagh Chief Executive of NAMA.
Last week I had the opportunity to take up the meeting invitation. Present at the meeting were Brendan McDonagh, Martin Whelan and the Chairman of NAMA, Mr. Frank Daly.
Naturally the recent headline cases where it was alleged that NAMA inaction threatened the creation of jobs by major international companies was raised. I was assured that NAMA has a good working relationship with the IDA, that the problems associated with the various projects were not of NAMAs making but that the organisation did use its influence to resolve a number of blockages to job creation.
While not having the full detail of the cases and background it seemed to me that the buck did not stop with them.
However, my reasons for my Twitter comments related to specific projects that I was directly and indirectly involved. I outlined my specific concerns regarding inordinate delays that I had experienced with NAMA making decisions on projects that have the potential to create jobs locally.
Just in case the projects which I was dealing with were exceptions, and in advance of my meeting with NAMA, I took the opportunity to talk to colleagues in Leinster House, auctioneers and a couple of developers. They all had the same experience – long delays and very slow turnarounds in dealing with requests to dispose of property which could help stimulate the local economy.
NAMA responded by pointing out that they were directly involved with 190 developers holding €61bn of debt and that their objective was to turn around requests within seven days, unless there were additional complications.
The banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland, and Anglo – were dealing with a further 600 developers holding €13bn of debt on behalf of NAMA and while they could not commit to a seven day turnaround their goal was to turnaround requests within 10 days.
While I accepted NAMAs was bona fides, my personal experience was of months rather than weeks or days, and rather than playing “blame tennis” across the table I agreed to seek permission from the people that I have been dealing with to bring the details of their requests directly to the Chair and Chief Executive of NAMA to see where the bottleneck is and to have it addressed.
The three NAMA representatives readily agreed to this proposal and I’m now awaiting permission to take some of these cases directly to the heads of NAMA and to see if they are truly focused on job creation and not just on property margins.