Sinn Féin’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) Bill 2017 was introduced at First Stage today. There is a general consensus that NAMA needs to be reoriented so that it can contribute more to solving the housing crisis. It is the sleeping giant that could facilitate the building homes for people who desperately need them. While others talk Sinn Féin is introducing legislation to tackle the housing crisis.
This Bill amends existing legislation that governs how NAMA is run and how it goes about disposing of its remaining assets.
It changes the mandate given to NAMA and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund so that they are explicitly mandated to invest in social housing.
It will also change the overall binding rules of NAMA slightly so that it no longer has to be ‘expeditious’ in dealing with its assets. This means speed of disposal is no longer an overriding concern and a more long term approach can be accommodated in its plans.
This reflects Sinn Féin’s long held position that the wind down of NAMA should not be rushed for a political deadline.
Our Bill compels the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohoe to ask NAMA to examine its books in order to achieve the new objectives of providing affordable and social housing. In effect this means everything stops and NAMA has to reassess its assets with an eye to building or accommodating social and affordable housing as a priority.
It forces a shift in NAMA’s thinking by making it prioritise social and affordable housing while allowing it greater flexibility in funding these projects.
It removes the excuses for NAMA not being a major part of the solution to the housing crisis. We hope that all parties will support this Bill and its aims so that it can progress through the Seanad as quickly as possible.