Public 'should' know Nama chief's pay

 

DÁIL COMMITTEE: NAMA HEARINGS:LABOUR TD Kathleen Lynchsaid the public should know the details of the remuneration package for the chief executive of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama).

“We will not know what his salary is . . . I take it that it is going to be a him . . . That is probably the most certain thing about today’s proceedings,” she told the Dáil Committee on Finance and the Public Service yesterday. “So we can’t know his salary . . . we can’t know if he is getting a bonus and we can’t know what rules he is going to operate on . . .”

Ms Lynch, who was among a number of Opposition TDs to demand details of the remuneration package, said that Nama should operate under new rules, with transparency, openness and accountability the order of the day.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihansaid a procedure had been set out whereby an appointment would be made after he had consulted with the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the chairperson of the Nama board.

Mr Lenihan said it was “unlikely” that the post would be advertised, given the speed in which matters had to be decided.

But he would have to listen to what the chief executive of the NTMA and the Nama chairperson had to say about that, he added.

Ms Lynch said that choosing someone from a narrow pool suggested that Ireland was a small country and only a few people could do the job. “That is what has us in the position we are now in.”

Asked by Terence Flanagan(FG) if the chief executive’s salary, and any bonuses paid, would be publicised, the Minister said it would not be subject to disclosure because it would be part of the NTMA.

The person appointed, he added, would be a member of the staff of the NTMA, if he or she was not already so. “We all know that the provisions relating to the payment and remuneration arrangements of the NTMA have not been the subject of public disclosure for many years,” he added.

Heckled by TDs, Mr Lenihan remarked that he had not seen any Private Members’ motions from Opposition parties to reverse this. When Opposition TDs had been in government, they had not questioned the arrangement, he added.

Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burtonsaid that while it was not a Civil Service appointment, it was a post that would be filled by the board of a public body.

She asked if the chief executive would earn more than the Minister’s package which, she understood, was worth €220,000– €250,000, as well as a State car and driver.

Declaring that he objected to Ms Burton’s reference to a package, he added: “I don’t have a package . . . and if I do, you also have a package deputy.”

Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Brutonsaid the Minister was being flippant in suggesting that the issue was “a closed box and we should respect our betters and not look under the lid of this box”.

One of the problems at the root of the banking system was bonuses, he said.

“They were related to short-term thinking about how to deal with risk,” said Mr Bruton. “The very same exposures are there for a bonus package that could be developed behind closed doors for a chief executive of an agency like this.”

Calling on the Minister to insist that the job be advertised, Paul Connaughton(FG) said: “Are they going to start swinging you by the tail before you start?”

Arthur Morgan(SF) said there was an opportunity for some kind of a new beginning in terms of openness and transparency relating to salaries and bonuses.