Venerdì, 21 Settembre 2018
FLORENCE

Marchionne calls for Marshall Plan in Italy

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Florence, June 13 - Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne on
Thursday called for a Marshall Plan similar to the postwar US
aid programme that regenerated war-torn Europe to stoke Italian
growth and foster modernization in the recession-hit and
red-tape-strangled country.
"We should bet on the future of Italy," declared
Marchionne, who said that the eurozone's third-largest economy
needs "a burst of pride, a collective effort, a sort of social
pact - call it a 'Marshall Plan for Italy' or what you like. A
plan for national cohesion, for economic recovery".
Marchionne said the Italian government should adopt "a
serious agenda of reforms" to help lift the economy out of its
longest recession in more than 20 years.
"Choose the five most important things, those that can
truly influence the lives of people. Give yourselves 90 days to
execute them and then move on to the next items," Marchionne
advised, speaking from the sidelines of a Florence meeting of
the Italian industry group Confindustria.
High on Marchionne's own list would be slashing the tax
burden, which is "unbearable for normal citizens" and to clear
obstacles to "already partly aborted" labour reforms.
As for Fiat, Marchionne reiterated that none of the
Turin-based carmaker's Italian plants would be shut down.
"The most rational choice would be to close one or two
factories in Italy" in order to "tackle production
overcapacity," admitted Marchionne.
"We have instead said - and I repeat - that we will not
close any plants in Italy. We have always managed our freedom
with conscience," Marchionne added.
Fiat's production plans in Italy should fully employ all
workers within three to four years, Marchionne added.
Chronic under-employment of a significant number of
autoworkers has been a source of labour tension in recent years.
Marchionne complained that Fiat continues to be
misunderstood by the Italian public, claiming it continues to
see the automaker through prejudices formed during the
automaker's crisis in the early 2000s - as a maker of
substandard quality vehicles and as a sponge of massive public
subsidies.
But Marchionne said Fiat has transformed since he took over
in 2004, tackling dire straits by choosing to "become stronger"
and "overcoming isolation" that "would have damaged" the
company.
The group's recent global mergers, with Chrysler in 2009
and with CNH this year, were motivated by necessity, he implied.
"If it had remained the same Fiat of old, we would have
taken the books into court (for bankruptcy proceedings) some
time ago," explained Marchionne.
"We have created work and well-being, and we continue to
invest and believe in Italy," Marchionne added.
The Italian-Canadian executive stressed the importance of
talks for Fiat to acquire the remaining 41.5% stake in Chrysler
from the United Auto Workers' (UAW) retiree health-care trust.
Asked whether there was still maneuvering room in the
negotiations, Marchionne said, "Of course. Otherwise we would no
longer be at the table".
The UAW retiree health-care trust, called VEBA, received a
41.5% stake in Chrysler as part of the Fiat-Chrysler merger deal
in 2009, which rescued the ailing American automaker from
bankruptcy.
Analysts now value the stake at 3.5 to 4 billion US
dollars, Forbes magazine reported at the end of April.
Fiat already owns 58.5% of Chrysler.
Marchionne added that a deal to refinance Chrysler's debt
has yet to be reached, but that he expected those negotiations
to be concluded "within a month".

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