No Pay Cuts for NAMA Staff

Just when it seems like everyone is suffering a pay cut because of the fiscal crisis, along comes a feel-good story like this one.

31 replies on “No Pay Cuts for NAMA Staff”

why am I not surprised? The judiciary, the senior civil service, the new all masters of the universe, all giving two large well fed fingers to the populace. Too much to expect leadership I suppose? Anyone? Anyone?

“The NTMA has traditionally set its own pay rates for staff in order to compete with the private sector for high-calibre employees.”

Isn’t that the same excuse that was used for years by politicians to justify their continuing pay-hikes?

I hope it doesn’t point towards the quality of service we can expect from NAMA..

Its all good….

Dead right there should be no pay cuts for these boys and girls. Sure why would one pay the workers in NAMA current market rates…. That would only introduce negativity in the workplace.

They need to be paid their Long Term Economic Value rates. When NAMA makes fools of ye all and breaks even, these top quality people will have earned their corn.

And just like the banks whose assets they buy they need to be paid their Long Term Economic Value bonus in advance.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Like all the many good government decisions which we celebrate here every day,
I am sure that this decision was made on the basis of the best advice available,
from the NTMA.

This is just barmy, it is just more of the meandering, miscreant and failed policies of the past. NAMA is grotesque, its ploy to overpay for everything was referred to by Stiglitz as “criminal”. Nothing has changed.

We have people in schools all round the country doing trojan work as evidenced by the inspiring RTE documentary last night which showed schools in Crumlin and Cherry Orchard giving every student a musical instrument and access to music lessons. All done, despite rather than because of, the department of Education with money from sponsors and fundraising. Community groups scraping by with meagre resources. The judiciary think they can implement the law of the land from some lofty perch, handing down sentences to the plebs. Do they not realise that there grabbing it is a gross insult to the people of the country and is a perversion and a distortion of jurisprudence. The law they are hiding behind and which they have both distorted and misrepresented was on the English statute books in Dickensian times. put there to give judges a salary which would put them beyond the pale of influence, bribery and corruption. It was not put there to protect them from having to contribute the same as everybody else in the country in which they have chosen to try and practise law.

By so doing all these groups, lets call them the “untouchables” are telling us they are exempt from austerity measures. The sooner they are brought to their senses the better.

One question, do they live in a different Ireland to the rest of us?
The fail to realise that they are there to serve and to serve with a degree of humility befitting the very privileged positions we have allowed them to be elevated to.

They are acting like the French royalty and aristocrats who were so divorced from the reality of the people they ‘ruled’. it ended badly for them and it MUST end badly for this lot too. All these stunts completely undermine democracy and undermine any attempts to rescue our economy.

Tomorrow and then the next day some new revelation will surface.This is the norm and should nt surprise.

The chance to rid the country of these guys was the second Lisbon treaty referendum .The fact there was such a large swing between the first and second referendums when nothing had changed in the treaty points to the Irish electorate being guided by emotion (fear in this case) rather than trusting their own rational judgement.
FF are just responding to this and in fairness most Irish people have got the government they deserve and in tune with their pysche.

Until FF fear the people there will be no change.

There is a good discussion on the senior civil service paycuts on this thread on

Poster He3 quotes the minister’s most recent budget speech when he again
said the pension levy was a cut. It also slipped his mind to mention that he was including the pension levy as part of the 15% total cut i.e. when you hear them say we were cut 15% this year remember 10% was the pension levy which they themselves said at the time wasn’t a cut. In fact they called it a “pension levy” because they specifically wanted to let everyone in the public sector – from the greedy cleaners upwards – know it wasn’t a paycut. The Irish Times always describe it as a pension levy.

Why do they allow ministers to now claim it as a paycut?
“The salary of the Taoiseach will be reduced by 20 per cent. This reduction, together with the pension levy means the Taoiseach’s salary will be cut by close to 30 per cent in total.

Ministers and Secretaries General of Government Departments will take a pay cut of 15 per cent: an overall cut of close to 25 per cent when the pension levy is taken into account.”

The same poster quotes from a letter to The Irish Times by a Brian Flanagan:
“Having sat on it for three months, the Government slipped out the latest report by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector in the wake of the Budget. Its approach was to compare Irish salaries with those in Germany, UK, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium and Finland.

It found that the Taoiseach’s and ministers’ salaries were the second highest and that salaries of secretary generals were the highest. Even after adjusting for pensions, tax and purchasing power, Irish salaries were still well ahead of most countries. In comparison with Finland (population 5.4 million), the Taoiseach’s salary was 33 per cent higher than his opposite number, ministers were 20 per cent ahead and secretary generals were 52 per cent higher.”

Cuts of 5% (ministers and secretary generals) and 3% for Assistant Secretaries and 5.4% for Deputy Secretaries will make little inroads on these.

As poster DCon observes:
“A great stunt by Lenihan. He announced in the budget that the review would be with “similar sized countries”. The actual review included Germany and the UK.”

Poster Mushroom speculates the reason for the U-turn was:
“The truth of the matter is that the payscales of the hundreds of FF/Green Monkey ’special advisers’ (sic) are linked to higher civil service grades,”
I don’t know if there is such a link but if there is it might well be a factor.

Poster laidback also says this, which if true would suggest the senior civil serpents, as mushroom refers to them, are really part of a ruling caste:
“Some of these senior civil servants sit on state boards representing their depts. They receive fees for this which vary but most boards seem to pay €14,000 pa plus expenses.

I suspect they are allowed to keep these fees on top of their decent salaries. Does anyone know for sure?

Board fees have increased over the years. Will they now be cut or will these senior civil servants continue to get these fees on top of their very slightly to be reduced salaries?”

When will we get an internal devaluation for ministers, reducing them to the level of comparable countries like Finland?
Answer: Not with this government – they’ve had multiple chances and now they are trying to get away with it by comparing themselves to the UK and Germany!

As for their expenses, they refuse to publish details and almost seven months after this Irish Times editorial…

We find this:

How can Oireachtas members get away with claiming €9 million in expenses without publishing all receipts?

This FOI must be answered:

The continuing stone walling as shown below cannot be allowed to continue.

“There is a whole other set of data related to how much our TDs and Senators spend, that is not included in the expenses system. This is the system of costs.

When TDs travel under Irish Parliamentary Association or other committee travel or parliamentary travel, they do not necessarily go through the expenses system. In other words not everything is claimed. And since I only sought “expenses” details, that is all I was provided with. Letter of the law, and all that jazz. But in the costs system, the Oireachtas pay up front for certain things, without a TD claiming for them. This skews the figures just a tad.”

Do TDs, let alone FF TDs, let alone ministers, live in the real world?
Is the real world all five star, first class, be flown to Kerry – Be chauffeured? Don’t be stupid you peasant – and then FF staunchly defend trough swilling Kingpig O’Donoghue when he resigns?
What kind of country allows this while the blind and the disabled are cut 6% (2% Xmas bonus, 4% most recent budget)?

It’s a morally inexcusable outrage.

Boys & girls, aren’t we forgetting a little…economics here? You know, opportunity cost, incentives, supply & demand and all that stuff we tell undergrads.
NAMA is now, whether we like it or not (& I don’t), perhaps the most important game in town. So we really don’t want these guys to screw up. So, on the basis that “pay peanuts and you get monkeys” shouldn’t their pay be determined not by some arbitrary relativities/grudge?
Yup, I know,how do we know we’re not going to get monkeys anyway? Well we don’t but the costs are asymmetric: underpaying is probably a lot worse than overpaying.

@ Kevin

Yes, good point and I did think about it before posting this story. Indeed, I argued on a number of occasions that NAMA should be run as a professional multi-billion property involving seriously well-paid people with a good track record.

But the decision to have NAMA run by government bureaucrats has already been taken. We’re getting what we’re getting and that’s DOF-style civil servants. In which case, they should take the pay cut like everyone else.

But look, beyond the stuff relating to NAMA, the serious issue here is whether NTMA staff should be on secret unpublished pay scales. I don’t think so. If the US Treasury can run the world’s biggest sovereign bond issuance program with a bunch of on-scale federal government employees, I don’t see why we can’t also do so.

Karl: I agree there probably shouldn’t be secret pay scales. You may well be right but don’t even government officials [aka bureaucrats] have opportunity costs so we’re not necessarily getting what we’re getting? So it may be right not to cut their pay the same as the rest of us mortals?
I’m not familiar with the US Treasury practice but then I expect DOF isn’t either so what works in DC may not work here. Ultimately, its an agency problem. My concern is that the politics of envy/anger takes over here.

Brendan Keenan has been vindicated. The Anglo investigations were a government PR stunt:

“FORMER Anglo Irish boss Sean FitzPatrick has still not been questioned by the gardai or corporate watchdog officials probing the concealment of €87m of secret loans.

The revelation comes more than a year after he admitted the huge sum was transferred to rival bank Irish Nationwide in an effort to hide the extent of loans to the bank’s directors.”

“Last February, a large number of box files were removed from the now-nationalised Anglo’s St Stephen’s Green headquarters during a high-profile and well-publicised raid by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation.
Since then, investigators have been poring over emails and electronic data obtained during this raid. However, not a single prosecution has been made to date.”

“The news is likely to spark further controversy among politicians and former Anglo Irish shareholders already concerned over the length of time the probe is taking.”
I heard Bernard Durkin speak out forcefully. Richard Bruton said a sentence or two. Otherwise Kenny and Gilmore are holding them back.

“The Irish Independent has also learned that up to 45 staff in Anglo were aware of the transfer of the loans to Irish Nationwide, and many of them could be interviewed by the investigation teams. Anglo has declined to comment on the ongoing investigations.”

“Garda sources said it was unlikely “key personalities” would be questioned until much later in the investigation.”

You know, it almost seems as if the investigators are trying to take the longest possible time to reach a conclusion.

There are 45 “key personalities” that they just can’t talk to. It’s part of a really clever strategy. Yeah, right. This is extraordinary.


“SEVERAL SENIOR Government figures have now ruled out holding a public inquiry into the banking crisis any time in the immediate future.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, said yesterday such an investigation was not an immediate priority for the Government, strongly indicating such a vehicle would not be established during 2010.”

In other news, one year and three months after the Watergate burglary, Nixon continues to rule out any investigation. “It would just get in the way”, he declared. “A year from now, maybe.” He has however appointed an official to look into some technical issues…very slowly. The official – who is investigating whether the burglars’ vehicles had insurance – has adopted a strategy of talking to the burglars at the end of the investigation. Sources close to his office say they have amassed huge technical data on their vehicles, but they will not ask the burglars themselves whether they have any insurance documents until the end of the investigation. This is expected to be several months away.

Nixon’s cabinet have declared that they can’t comment on anything relating to the burglary until after the investigation into the insurance status of the vehicles is completed. “This is a criminal matter. It wouldn’t be right to comment until after the investigations are completed. But don’t get us wrong. No one condemns the burglary we committed more than we do.”

@ Karl Whelan
“But look, beyond the stuff relating to NAMA, the serious issue here is whether NTMA staff should be on secret unpublished pay scales. I don’t think so. If the US Treasury can run the world’s biggest sovereign bond issuance program with a bunch of on-scale federal government employees, I don’t see why we can’t also do so.”
I find it extraordinary that it is left up to a forum such as this to make these very relevant points.
Where are Fine Gael and Labour, they certainly do not deserve to be given the chance to govern simply because “it’s our turn next,” which is exactly what seems to be their current strategy.
Also, why have we not seen any independent surveys conducted which measure the level of trust the people have in an organisation such as NAMA.
In the next political party popularity poll there should also be questions relating to TRUST and CORRUPTION.
In a recent Icelandic survey by MMR (Market & Media Research) 67% said they trust the Norwegian-French magistrate, Eva Joly, who serves as a consultant to the special prosecutor’s office, responsible for investigating the banking collapse.
Over 50% said they trusted the special prosecutor, Ólafur Thór Hauksson.
However, only 36% of respondents said they trusted the Office of the Attorney General and a dismal 27% said they trusted the Icelandic Parliament’s Investigation Committee.
But the Icelanders have good reason to trust and support somebody like Eva Joly because she provides them with courageous leadership in their hour of great need:
Eva Joly condemned the conduct of British authorities in the Icesave dispute in an article published simultaneously in Iceland’s Morgunbladid, Norway’s Aftenposten and Britain’s Daily Telegraph;
“British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is wrong when he says that he and his government have no responsibility in the [Icesave] matter. First, he has a moral responsibility, having been one of the main proponents of this model which we can now see has gone up the spout. Second, he cannot say that the UK had neither the means nor the legitimacy to supervise Icesave’s activities,” Joly writes.
“Of course, the Icelandic institutions have much responsibility. But does that necessarily mean that the responsibility of the British authorities should be overlooked, dumping it all on the Icelandic people alone?” she asks.
“Iceland, whose only remaining source of income is its exports, will certainly not be able to pay off those debts,”
It would appear that Eva Joly’s courage is finally beginning to seep into the body politic;
Davíð Oddsson, the head of Iceland’s Central Bank, and Icelandic Finance Minister Árni Mathiesen on Icelandic TV: “We will not pay the foreign debts of irresponsible mess makers; we’d be saddling our children with such debt, it would be slavery…”-

sean o’

“Until FF fear the people there will be no change.”

Precisely put!

It all started out well. Mortgages for all. Then 90%, 95% 100% mortgages. Loans for cars, holidays, any purpose at all.
Reminds me of the economics of drug peddling. Free drugs at first then a voluntary payment, then “pay me when you sell them.” Then you owe me. You have to sell 10,000 or whatever. After that it is even less pleasant!
They become enslaved. Junkies.

Then there is a disruption in the supply! The hangover begins.

These people have to be paid 4,000,000,000 over ten years or so. The more they are paid the more they owe the government and the bankers. The more that the peasants who pay taxes can see that this is important work. They will work harder. If they are lucky to have a job.

Karl, you know this so why post it? Want to start a revolution? Ooops better be careful or Menheer Tol will tell me to be more mature!

Bah – our position was in many ways similar to our friends in Iceland. Yet they are now (starting) to grow some nuts, and do the right thing. That old joke about the only difference between Ireland and Iceland being one letter is sounding worse every day. I wish it was true though…

“The NTMA has traditionally set its own pay rates for staff in order to compete with the private sector for high-calibre employees.”

So that puts paid to the myth that the private sector are taking drastic pay cuts left right and centre? If they were, the NAMA staff could too?

I have no particular axe to grind about public/private sector (e.g. I am not a public servant) but I have not found a great deal of evidence to suggest there are severe pay cuts in many places in the private sector.

@Kevin Denny
“NAMA is now, whether we like it or not (& I don’t), perhaps the most important game in town. So we really don’t want these guys to screw up. So, on the basis that “pay peanuts and you get monkeys” shouldn’t their pay be determined not by some arbitrary relativities/grudge?”

IMHO, we may still be getting monkeys as Nama’s board (and top management) has too many locals (8 out of 9) and too many of these previously worked for the establishment (4 out of 8) raising the possibiliy of “board capture”. Presumably, they were selected because they “understand” the Irish business culture and political agenda, as well as for their undoubted experience and expertise. I would like to have seen the board include “real outsiders” with direct experience of very large-scale asset management, well-known views on protecting taxpayers and track records of aggressively pursuing large-scale, delinquent loans. These would include some really tough, nasty lawyer-types who cut their teeth on Wall Street and would be more than a match for any of the “locals”. Of course, appointments of this type could put the “cat amongst the pigeons” and this isn’t what the Minister for Finance is seeking at board level given his role in shaping and running Nama.

While on the subject of Nama’s management, I would have thought that, bearing in mind that it will be one of the largest property companies in the world, its board and management should also be visibly world-class. Anything less is equivalent to sending a boy on a man’s errant. Bear mind that the three most important factors determining the success of a venture are management, management and management. The equivalents for property are location, location and location – these factors were often ignored during the boom and contributed to the crisis which Nama seeks to address.

The proposed staffing of Nama is only a fraction of that used by the Swedish “bad” bank operation which dealt exclusively with nationalised banks (this may still happen in Ireland) and had a loan portfolio far smaller than Nama’s. It appears that Nama’s in-house staff of about 100 people will be managing a highly fragmented, complex portfolio worth €77 billion covering 20,000 loans linked to almost 2,000 developers’ business plans. As a consequence, Nama will be over dependant on expensive external advisers and will be obliged to over-delegate back to the covered institutions. Such an approach is penny wise and pounds foolish and a clear recipe for cock ups.

Overall, I’d have liked to have seen more people with substantial, relevant, international experience at board level and clearer indications that the management team will be appropriate to the task. Bear in mind that Nama exists because of massive managerial failures at government, regulation, administration, banking and developer levels. We don’t want Nama to repeat these errors due to insufficient experience or expertise.

Not sure how much to read into this, but just out from the NTMA…


Is this just a rounding issue? If not, my assumption would be that the valuation process has been tougher than originally assumed, and this has been suggested recently. So now they still pay 54bn, but get 80bn in return, so in effect a 32.5% haircut. Again though, could be reading too much into this…

This is a stupid story

NTMA has always had independence around pay,they are more like a semi-state

They continue to have it… and if they wish they could seek to increase or lower pay

@ me

you can probably ignore my previous post…


Why is it stupid to seek a small, smidgen, teeny tiny wee bit of leadership?

Well, the Central Bank is as “independent” as NAMA. It was not included in the original list of institutions to which pay cuts applied, but it has been decided (by the Governor?) that the CB should be treated just like other public sector bodies. This surely weakens the case for exempting NAMA.

There may be a case for some highly-paid individually-contracted specialists in NAMA, but there is little of no justification for a blanket exemption

I understand that NTMA staff were affected by the pension levy although many aren’t entitled to state pensions (which, of course, confirms the interpretation of the pension levy as a pay cut). So for the purposes of the pension levy they were interpreted as state employees, not semi-staters. They seem to have been able to draw a line in the sand, much like the senior Civil Servants. One has to suspect that insider access to decision makers is key here, rather than concern about incentives.

@ John

“There may be a case for some highly-paid individually-contracted specialists in NAMA”

i thought almost all of the NAMA employees (outside of the top mgt) would be on contract (3 yrs?), so i would have thought the public sector pay cuts was less of an issue in this regard?

Admitting that many are on contract, headcount in the NTMA stood at 170end 08, 115 end o4 when their defined benefit plan was closed.

@ Brian Lucy

Just heard your interview on Newstalk. Well done and well said. I know you are just repeating what you, I and others on this site are saying but it did not half sound good on the national airwaves.

It will be a long hard road but I am becoming more and more convinced that we have the steadfastness to change this country and its system for the better.

Well done Brian, Karl, Constantin etc

@Desmond Brennan

The NTMA has always had independence around pay, however, that doesn’t make it right.

Their ‘independence’ is not “like a semi-state”.

It’s not too tricky to find out how much someone like Rody Molloy is/was being paid, nor what John Lynch of CIE’s pension totals. This can be done in a number of ways, including, though I’ve never tried it personally, the FOI Act.

In contrast, getting solid details on salaries for someone who works for the NTMA or NAMA is near-impossible. Nobody even knows for sure if the top brass are on six or seven figure totals.

Both the NTMA and commercial semi-states are independent in similar ways, yes, but they’re not accountable in similar ways.

It’s s stupid story insomuch as the headline: “NAMA staff exempt from pay cuts”. We knew that anyway… they are NTMA staff. It is not news, just sensationalist tosh. As I said the NTMA may choose to give pay cuts. (that said though I think their staff have real world contracts of employment… so that would have to be negotiated)

Yes their pay is opaque – and they directly compete for staff with the private sector. Most senior people tend to take a modest pay cut to go work there… but the lesser hours compensate

For PLC’s we only find out how much director’s were paid… I know several PLCs where senior management have avoided the board just for that reason

I’m not sure “open-sourcing” NTMA pay will make it more efficient… especially as the public are given to howling and yelping whenever they hear of high pay in Ireland

However we do need some method of oversight (and I don’t trust the board)… does the any Dáil committee have such ?

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