Obama’s auto taskforce stresses ‘urgency’ of industry crisis

February 21st, 2009 - 7:21 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Feb 21 (DPA) US President Barack Obama’s taskforce for the country’s ailing car manufacturers met for the first time Friday, stressing the “urgency” of repairing an industry that is on the verge of collapse.
The group, led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the White House’s top economic advisor Larry Summers, is tasked with evaluating the survival prospects of General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC.

The two iconic US carmakers have already received $17.4 billion in emergency government loans between them, and this week said they could need as much as $20 billion more to survive the country’s deepening recession.

A statement from the taskforce said its members offered their “initial analyses” of GM and Chrysler’s detailed restructuring plans, which were submitted Tuesday and included some 50,000 job cuts worldwide.

“Secretary Geithner and Director Summers emphasised the urgency of the issues affecting the American auto industry and the need for fundamental restructuring to achieve long-term viability,” the statement said.

Both companies must prove they are on a path towards profitability by March 31 or risk losing the government loans. The taskforce is charged with making the decision on whether they have met the loan’s conditions.

Ford Motor Co is the only member of Detroit’s so-called “Big Three” that has not sought government funds.

The US financial crisis has sent US car sales to their lowest levels in a quarter-century over the past four months. But many lawmakers and economists also fault Detroit for failing to adapt to a changing market over the last decade.

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