December 19, 2008

Putin calls for Russians to buy Russian

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Friday said Russian companies should buy only Russian-made vehicles.

Now that our producers are forced to slash production, I think it is absolutely unacceptable to spend money on acquiring foreign cars, Putin said.

Budget money -- the funds of natural monopolies and, I hope, the largest private companies -- should be spent on buying domestically produced products, RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, reported Putin said.

A government commission in November proposed duties on foreign cars be raised from 25 percent to 30 percent. Putin said the government should budget an additional $450 million for the purchase of vehicles for police, rescue services and other public agencies.

Russia's national development bank VEB, meanwhile, is considering granting $616 million loans to three Russian auto companies. Sollers -- producers of Fiat, Isuzu, SsangYong and UAZ brands -- truck maker KamAZ and Yaroslavl Diesel Engine Plant had each requested loans.

Foreign companies also have a presence in Russia. General Motors Corp. runs three plants in Russia. Ford Motor Co., Renault, and Toyota operate Russian plants, while Hyundai, Suzuki, and Nissan are constructing plants in the country, the news service said.