US government plans to sell remaining GM shares this year

The United States government plans to sell its remaining 31.1 million shares in General Motors before the year’s end.

As AAP reports, GM still holds about two per cent of the auto maker following the bailout of the company which it and the Canadian government carried out in 2009.

"If average daily trading volumes continue at recent levels, Treasury anticipates that it will complete the sale of its remaining shares by the end of the year. However, that schedule remains subject to market conditions," the Treasury department said in a statement on Thursday.

The Treasury department is intending to sell the shares sooner than was first expected. In September the department stated that it would sell its stake in GM in the next 12-15 months.

According to Reuters, the plan may leave American taxpayers with a shortfall of about $10 billion.

Reuters quotes an anonymous Treasury official as saying, "Our goal was never to make a profit. It was to save the U.S. auto industry."

The intention of the investment was articulated by Tim Bowler, Treasury deputy assistant secretary, who said in the statement, "Had we not acted to support the automotive industry, the cost to the country would have been substantial – in terms of lost jobs, lost tax revenue, reduced economic production, and other consequences."

He added that all US automakers, GM, Ford, and Chrylser are now making a profit. In addition, over 340,000 new auto jobs have been created since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

The industry continues to strengthen. U.S. auto sales through October have risen by 8.4 percent and sales are expected to top 15.5 million for the full year. This is well above the figure of 10.4 million in 2009.