TURIN -- Italy's government will meet with the country's auto industry leaders Wednesday, January 28, to discuss possible help for the sector.
Asked whether the government planned to give financial aid to the car industry, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said: "We'll see, there are also measures that are not costly to the state and that help sales."
Berlusconi had earlier said the car sector was in steep decline and was among those "that need an intervention." His government was in "constant contact" with other European countries, particularly France, in order to take measures that would not discriminate against some companies, Berlusconi added.
Fiat Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, said the Italian government is well aware of the importance of the auto industry and its entire value chain to the Italian economy and the fact that some European countries have implemented significant measures to support the sector.
"We view the Government's initiative as a signal of the importance it gives to a sector which is very important in terms of both its contribution to Italian GDP and employment," di Montezemolo said.
The January 28 meeting in Rome will involve Fiat and other organizations related to the automotive and transportation sector including dealers.
On January 22, Fiat said its net industrial debt soared to 5.9 billion euros by the end of 2008, nearly three times its own forecast as it struggled with higher costs and falling sales.
Fiat and other carmakers have been scrambling to cut the cost of mounting inventories of unsold vehicles by suspending production and laying off workers.
E-mail Luca Ciferri at [email protected]