Costello welcomes Commission decision on NAMA home building role

26 January 2018

Speaking at Dublin Central’s Constituency Council meeting today, Joe Costello, Labour spokesperson on Urban Regeneration said:

“I welcome the announcement yesterday by the EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, that the EU has rejected the complaint lodged with the Commission by a group of five Irish property developers, namely, that the involvement of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) in house building was anti- competitive.

“It is a bit rich of the property developers to oppose NAMA’s house building activities when they themselves have shown no sense of urgency in building residential houses or apartments.

“While the country is in the midst of a homeless and housing crisis of extraordinary proportions the private sector has concentrated on construction in the most profitable end of the market, that is, office blocks, student accommodation and ‘build to let’ units.

“At the same time the local authorities lack the capacity to fill the vacuum. In 2016 and to the end of November 2017, the combined 31 local authorities built only 439 units of residential accommodation and the voluntary housing sector built only 169 units.

“Clearly, the present policy is a complete failure.

“There must be a public housing program led by a public body to lead the way.

“NAMA has begun to transform itself from its original remit back in 2010 of disposal of impaired State assets to becoming a major actor in the construction industry. It has done so largely by leveraging its properties and sites with developers through joint ventures.

“Its end of year statement demonstrates that it has already built thousands of homes and has a substantial 20,000 units of houses and apartments under construction or at planning stage at present.

“Moreover, NAMA has a multi- billion cash fund in the bank for future construction if required.

“NAMA is the only body, public or private, that has demonstrated the expertise and the resources to provide the tens of thousands of new homes that are urgently needed.

“In the long term a National Housing Agency is required but in the immediate crisis the Government should admit its failure, reconfigure and redirect NAMA and position it centre stage in tackling the homeless and housing crisis.”

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