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Italy govt considers eco-incentives to help Fiat

Italy govt considers eco-incentives to help Fiat
MILAN - The Italian government could offer incentives to boost environmentally-friendly innovation at struggling carmaker Fiat , Industry Minister Antonio Marzano said yesterday.
\"The government has not made any decisions yet but the idea is mainly to offer incentives in the area of ecological innovation,\" Marzano told reporters. A deep drop in Fiat\'s car sales is gnawing away at its market share around Europe as well as its bottom line, dragging it to a 529 million euro ($487.1 million) net loss in the first quarter of the year. As one of Italy\'s biggest employers fights to climb out of the red, it has announced plans to fire about 3,000 workers although unions say the knock-on effect could mean about 12,000 people end up losing their jobs. Marzano did not say whether the incentives, which are likely to be scrutinised by the European Union, would come in the form of tax breaks to Fiat for forging ahead with ecological research or as discounts for people buying environmentally friendly cars. He reiterated he would not reopen incentives offered by the previous centre-left government which effectively paid people to swap their old cars for new models. When that 18-month programme ended in July 1998, sales slumped. \"(Those incentives) don\'t seem to be the solution because they don\'t resolve anything and two years later you\'re back to where you began,\" Marzano said, adding he was waiting to see Fiat\'s restructuring plan and would work in line with that. Earlier this month, the Industry Commission of Italy\'s lower house set up a study into what it called the \"very worrying\" car sector crisis. Italian new car sales fell about 13 percent in the first quarter of the year. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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