Lenihan increases salaries of Nama board

 

A DECISION by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to increase the salaries of board members of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), less than three months after starting the job, has been described as “scandalous” and “disconcerting”.

Mr Lenihan said he had “revised” the fees “in light of the workload of the board’s operations over the initial period of it operation”, in assessing the transfer of €80 billion in loans.

The changes mean that Nama chairman and former chair of the Revenue Commissioners Frank Daly, will see a 70 per cent rise in his €100,000 salary to €170,000.

The six ordinary members of the board will get a €12,000 pay increase for a new salary of €50,000. It is also understood that Nama has appointed former Bank of Ireland executive Michael Connolly as chairman of the agency’s credit committee.

Mr Connolly will receive an all-inclusive annual fee of €150,000 on the understanding that he works “no less than 3 to 4 days a week”, according to guidelines.

Nama has also appointed AIB executive Frank O’Connor as head of treasury. His appointment follows a decision by Nama to split one of its executive positions – head of treasury and lending – into two. Nama is expected to appoint a head of lending from the UK.

In reply to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin finance spokesman Arthur Morgan, Mr Lenihan said that “account was taken of the critical importance of the work to be undertaken by the board and the fact that its workload will be excessive by normal standards in the first year of operation. I intend to review the fees after a year”.

Mr Morgan said there was no justification for the salary increases which he described as “an insult to public service workers, who have had their wages cut in Budget 2010. The Government is telling us it’s essential to have those cuts and now they are increasing a salary agreed in December by 70 per cent to €170,000. It is scandalous.”

Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton said it was “disconcerting” that “at a time when the new Nama board is embarking on a perilous journey involving huge risks with billions of euro of taxpayers’ money” the “first item on the agenda is payment levels for the crew”.

He said the 70 per cent increase for the director seemed “excessive”. “But even these salaries are small compared to those still being paid to the bank directors who were present when these appalling lending decisions were made. And they are a drop in the ocean compared to the €54 billion worth of assets that Nama will be managing, on the backs of taxpayers.”