Sunday 13 September 2009

Green light for ‘social dividend’ clause

The Green Party has secured government support for a new ‘social dividend’ clause in the Nama Bill, giving schools, hospitals and community projects ‘‘first refusal’’ on land acquired from developers that are in default.

The measure is one of several changes designed to smooth the way for Green Party members to support the Nama proposal in a ballot next month.

An Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crisis is likely to be set up in January after the bad bank legislation has been finalised, according to some sources.

Party leader John Gormley and communications minister Eamon Ryan are making the case to their members for Nama as ‘‘an opportunity to bring better planning to national development’’.

The social dividend clause would give state and community projects first refusal on sites at market value and this would ‘‘lead to better and cheaper planning’’, said Ryan.

‘‘One of the developments at committee stage – and I think we’ll see it – is the offer of first refusal for public use in the development of the land. It will still be a fair price for the land but not an inflated price as has been paid in the past by the state."

Ryan said that ‘‘developers inflated land prices when they knew the state wanted to purchase it for developing projects’’ in the past. He was speaking as the Green Party membership met yesterday in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel to consider a range of changes to the draft bill.

Sunday Business Post

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