Mauritius cuts growth forecast for 2013 to 3.5 pct

PORT LOUIS, March 26 Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:14am EDT

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PORT LOUIS, March 26 (Reuters) - Mauritius has cut its economic growth forecast slightly for 2013 to 3.5 percent, the Statistics office said on Tuesday, citing a deeper contraction in the construction industry.

The Indian Ocean island, with an annual gross domestic product of $10 billion, had previously forecast 3.7 percent growth this year, after a 3.3 percent expansion in 2012.

"Construction is expected to decline further by -6.9 percent after the contraction of -3.0 percent in 2012," Statistics Mauritius said in a statement, blaming the deterioration on fewer construction projects like roads planned for this year.

The information and communication sector is also expected to grow at a slower pace, by 8.6 percent from an earlier forecast of 9 percent, the agency said.

The International Monetary Fund said in January the country would grow 3.7 percent this year helped by fisheries, financial services as well as the information and communication technology sector.

The island state is striving to diversify its economy to cut a reliance on the economically troubled euro zone, its main source of revenue from tourism and a major market for its textiles, sugar and services industry.

The central bank maintained its key repo rate at 4.9 percent earlier this month in line with market expectations. (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Susan Fenton)

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