IRELAND - The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) risks flooding the property market, resulting in many of its holdings selling for "a good deal less than real value", a member of the Irish parliament has warned.
Addressing the Dáil last week, independent TD Mick Wallace, formerly a property developer, voiced his concerns in a debate about how NAMA holdings could be used to revitalise the country's art and cultural establishments.
Wallace said: "Being involved in the industry myself, I am convinced most of the stuff with which NAMA is liable to flood the market will be sold at a good deal less than its real value."
He argued that instead of selling the holdings below their value, the properties should be used for sports and cultural activities.
"There will be a better return for the taxpayer as well given that much of what will be sold off will be bought by foreign investors at a knock-down price," Wallace added.
The minister for culture, tourism and sport Jimmy Deenihan admitted the financial return needed to be balanced with the "cultural and social capital that could materialise", as a result of allowing local communities to take over NAMA properties.
Deenihan added that the agency was putting in place facilities to allow community groups to buy certain buildings, saying: "NAMA should consider the possibility of community involvement as well as waiting for investors to come in."
In February, the organisation's head of credit and risk Ronnie Hanna assured delegates at the Northern Ireland Housing Sector Conference in Belfast that it would not be forced into selling troubled real estate that could potentially destabilise the market.
NAMA was unavaliable for comment at time of publication.