KUALA LUMPUR: National car maker Proton Holdings Bhd is expected to have reduced its debts and started its recovery efforts with the RM1.5billion government soft loan. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said the soft loan was approved to further strengthen its position in the automotive industry in the country and internationally. "The main objective of the RM1.5billion soft loan was to enable Proton to make payments to all its vendors, which supply component parts. "This will give Proton the opportunity to reduce its debts level and focus on efforts of company recovery and development," he said in a parliamentary written reply. Mustapa was responding to Wan Hassan Mohd Ramli (PAS-Dungun), who asked to state the guarantee that the government soft loan can save Proton and enhance its competitiveness in the automotive industry. The loan was approved last month on several conditions including that Proton must convince the government of its new business model, to come up with a turnaround plan for the company, aside from providing a strategic plan to expand the domestic and international markets. Mustapa said the government took into consideration important aspects like employment, business ecosystem as well as research and development.