It is becoming increasingly difficult to read a newspaper these days without further stoking one’s cynicism with regards to how the present crisis is being handled. There were a couple of stories in Saturday’s Irish Times concerning NAMA that once more highlighted reasons to be concerned and cynical about its implementation. The first story concerned the enormous pay rises being given to NAMA board members just weeks after they have taken up their posts. The second story concerned the banks and developers, looking for a relaxation in the paperwork and due diligence required to transfer loans to NAMA.
So, let’s get this straight. First, the banks provide huge sums of money to developers with little due diligence and little oversight or regulation by government bodies. Second, when the whole edifice comes crashing down, the government and tax payers step in to bail them out, providing billions of euros of guarantees, injections of funds, and the concocting NAMA. Third, the government then staffs NAMA in part by re-employing failed gamekeepers and converted poachers to manage the state’s takeover and management of assets (these might be honest and honourable people with the required skills, but the optics are terrible – but then the same ‘masters’ who got us into this mess think they are compenent to get us out of it). Fourth, the state then awards the board an immediate, and very large, pay rise at the time that it is cutting the pay of the rest of the public sector and seemingly doing very little to create employment for those who have lost their job. Fifth, there seems to be a waivering around the need for proper due diligence on assets that are costing the tax payer billions of euros, which is one of the reasons we’re in this mess in the first place. Cynical? Why shouldn’t we be cynical?