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February 7, 2009

Thai PM: No funding for GM, individual firms

Thailand's premier said on Friday that the government has no plans to give funding to General Motors.

"I appreciate the difficulties that the industry is going through. But our plan at the moment is not to provide specific assistance to individual companies," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiv said at a news conference in Tokyo, where he is visiting for three days until February 7.

"What we will do is to provide the best environment we could for the industries to be able to carry on."

GM said earlier this week that its executives met Thai Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungrueng to discuss possible assistance for delayed diesel-engine and pickup projects in Rayong province.

GM will need "alternative funding solutions" to ensure progress, the company said in a statement.

Abhisit said that instead of providing assistance to firms, the government will take measures such as making sure financing is not a problem for domestic customers, as well as seeing if there are any regulatory issues that could be addressed swiftly.

"We hope that by implementing these measures and policies, we will be assisting them in a neutral and market friendly way," he said.

GM suspended construction at the diesel engine plant about three months ago as the global financial crisis and recession fears hit car and truck sales, forcing its Detroit head office to seek a US state bailout.

The company has scaled down vehicle production at its Rayong plant since mid-December due to falling demand caused by the global economic slowdown.

GM sold 23,343 cars and trucks in Thailand in 2008, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier. Its combined vehicle sales in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines rose 9.4 percent in 2008 to 32,023.

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