THE CHAIRMAN of the National Asset Management Agency has said he opposes proposals to make the agency subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
Frank Daly told the Oireachtas finance committee that extending FoI legislation to cover the State’s ‘bad bank’ would cause difficulties for the bank in its commercial objective of maximising its profits for the taxpayer.
“We are akin to a bank, an asset management company, and we’re out there competing with those other entities,” Daly said, in response to questioning from independent TD Stephen Donnelly.
Daly said the country could not afford to have his body, “which has €7.5 billion to raise in terms of its Troika objectives, [and] which has €32.1 billion to raise” in order to turn a profit, subject to total transparency which competing bodies were not bound by.
“We can’t afford to be hamstrung viz-a-vis our competitors,” Daly said.
“That’s not to say I don’t believe in transparency, but that’s not to say it doesn’t need to be brought into account,” the former Revenue Commissioners chairman added.
Daly was speaking on the day that Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, who was in attendance at the committee meeting, introduced legislation to the Dáil which would add NAMA to the list of institutions which are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
Doherty said NAMA needed to be subject to scrutiny because of its status as the largest holder of State assets and its operating costs of over €500,000 a day.
He added that the number of FoI requests submitted each year had halved in 2003 when the then-government amended the law to include a €15 application fee, which his Bill also proposes to remove.