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Possible Fiat aid resisted

2009-01-26 06:41

Rome - A right-wing Italian cabinet minister said on Sunday there would be a popular revolt if carmaker Fiat was given government help, warning government before talks with the auto sector this week.

"There would be a popular revolt if once again we were to give aid to Fiat," said Roberto Calderoli, who has the task of whittling down bureaucracy and legislation in the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"We have already paid up to intervene in Fiat so many times and you can't keep sharing the debt and keeping the profit," he told state television RAI.

Last week Fiat said 2009 would be its "toughest year ever" and revealed a debt pile three times its forecasts. Faced with a dramatic drop in sales, Fiat has temporarily shut down plants across Italy and suspended thousand of workers.

The company plans a partnership with US carmaker Chrysler LLC.

With the US government pledging billions of dollars to support its auto sector and some European governments also working on plans, Berlusconi has called talks with auto industry associations on Wednesday.

The centre-right premier has talked about "assistance that would not be costly for the state" and the need to make sure Italy's producers do not fall behind foreign competitors.

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