A legal question. What exactly is the Minister’s role in the NAMA valuation process?
My reading of the draft legislation (sections 76 and 98-102) suggests that NAMA first comes up with valuations in an independent manner. These can then be appealed to a valuation panel whose recommendations then go to the Minister, who becomes the final arbitrer or The Decider, as George W Bush used to put it.
However, my reading of the discussion below from the Oireachtas Committee transcript suggests however that the NAMA valuations are not independent and that the Minister can redirect them on valuations even without an appeal process. Am I reading this right? Answers on a postcard.
Deputy Brian Lenihan: I am trying to get through Deputy Bruton’s 14 questions first. Then I will deal with the questions Deputy Burton raised.
With regard to the concerns expressed about the dangers of political involvement in NAMA, I agree it is something we must examine very carefully in the analysis of the legislation. Regarding the cost to the taxpayer, I indicated an estimate will be provided on 16 September. That estimate will be backed up with information on how it was arrived at. With regard to the valuation procedure, it must be independent and transparent. The reason the Minister has been given a role in this is to ensure the full protection of the taxpayer and to ensure that if the Minister is of the view that the valuations are excessive, he or she can have them reconsidered. That is important from the point of view of the protection of the taxpayer.
Deputy Richard Bruton: Where is that in the legislation?
Deputy Brian Lenihan: In section 100.
Deputy Richard Bruton: That is only in the event the banks challenge it as being under value. I cannot see in the legislation where the Minister can challenge a simple decision to over-value by NAMA.
Deputy Brian Lenihan: I can give directions to NAMA to have a valuation reconsidered.