Cyprus sticks to its 2.1 pct growth estimate NICOSIA (Reuters) Cyprus said yesterday it would stick to a 2.1 percent growth forecast in 2009, a day after the European Commission gave a sharply lower forecast of 1.1 percent growth this year. «We are optimistic that if we expedite the development projects we have planned, we will meet the growth target recently set,» Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said. Commission forecasts of a 0.6 percent deficit in the public budget are in line with Finance Ministry forecasts, which see the shortfall hovering between 0.8 and 0.6 percent. The island nation has in the past four months revised its growth outlook lower on three occasions, worried at the impact of global economic turmoil on tourism and on Russia, a key investment partner. Cyprus central bank staff projections compiled last November put growth at 2.0 percent. Phileleftheros, a Greek-Cypriot daily, reported yesterday that central bank officials now saw lower growth approaching Commission forecasts as more likely. Babis Vovos confirms news of halt to project Property developer Babis Vovos International Construction said that the Council of State had halted construction of its Votanikos shopping mall project. Vovos will appeal the decision by the state’s highest administrative court, the company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, without providing details on the length of the halt. «The decision raises the risk of at least prolonged delays in the completion of the project,» Proton Securities said in a broker note yesterday before the Vovos e-mail was received. «We maintain the ‘under review’ rating… given the uncertainty over the largest project by far in the pipeline,» the brokerage said. (Bloomberg) Industry aid Turkey’s automotive industry needs immediate support from the government and official delays in announcing an assistance package are making the problem worse, the Auto Distributors’ Association said yesterday. «The automotive market needs support that will have a shock effect,» the Istanbul-based association said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. «There’s serious concern that the damage will increase» as the government weighs proposals to help the industry that were originally submitted in October, the statement added. Turkish exports of motor vehicles slumped by more than two- thirds between January 1 and January 15 as consumer demand fell and the export market crumbled, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on January 18, citing an exporters’ group. (Bloomberg) Intracom deal Intracom Telecom, majority-owned by Russia’s JSC Sitronics, has signed a 15-million-euro deal with Bulgarian Telecommunication Company (BTC) for the turnkey construction of infrastructure works on its GSM network, it said in a statement yesterday. Intracom’s Bulgarian subsidiary signed the deal which is expected to be completed in two years, the Greek company added. JSC Sitronics holds 51 percent of Intracom Telecom, with the remaining stake held by Intracom Holdings.