* Government wants commitment to Italy clarified
* Fiat said investment plan needs review
* Unions, businessman criticise carmaker
ROME, Sept 16 The Italian government is calling
on Fiat to clarify its commitment to Italy after the
carmaker reiterated its multi-billion-euro investment plan for
its home country should not be interpreted as an absolute
The request by Industry Minister Corrado Passera and Welfare
Minister Elsa Fornero follows criticism of Italy's biggest
industrial group from unions and a prominent Italian businessman
after Fiat restated its position on Thursday.
"It is right, important and urgent that (Fiat) gives some
clarification to the market and to the Italian people," Passera
told reporters on Saturday. "We will do whatever is possible to
ensure that Fiat's commitments towards Italy are honoured."
Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne launched the
'Fabbrica Italia' plan in 2010, vowing to invest 20 billion
euros ($26.3 billion) in Fiat and sister company Fiat Industrial
over five years in exchange for, among others, more
flexible labour rules at its loss-making Italian plants.
Fiat, which controls U.S. car group Chrysler, said on
Thursday that dire market conditions make it unrealistic to
expect its original project would remain unchanged, triggering a
political storm in Italy, Fiat's main market.
"We must talk about the future of Fiat as this does not only
concern its shareholders but also its many employees, their
families and the government itself," Fornero said.
A government source told Reuters on Sunday no date had yet
been set for a meeting between Passera and Marchionne.
Fiat already had said in October last year that it would no
longer use the term Fabbrica Italia because it was being
interpreted as an absolute commitment of the company.
But unions and the government were irritated when the
carmaker repeated the plan was not definite at a time of
uncertainty over whether Fiat may close some of its Italian
"The reality is that it was a voluntary initiative with no
requirement or pre-condition for public funding," Fiat said on
Thursday, stressing how market conditions had changed profoundly
since the plan was first announced, with Fiat's Italian sales
down to levels not seen since the 1970s.
Fiat also said it would give information on product plans
and production allocation when it publishes results in October.
The statement prompted businessman Diego Della Valle, who
controls luxury shoemaker Tod's, to lash out at Fiat on
Friday, accusing the company and Marchionne of a lack of
coherence and commitment to Italy.
Left-wing union leader Susanna Camusso also criticised the
carmaker, saying Fiat has for too long "made fun" of Italy.
"Can we still wait?," she was quoted as saying on Sunday by
newspaper La Repubblica. "The government must take charge and
stop asking what Fiat plans to do and tell Fiat what the country
intends to do."