BEIJING is poised to boost state control over the economy, according to officials in the State Planning Commission (SPC) and other economic ministries. Economic sources in Beijing said State Council bureaucrats were putting stability before reform or high-speed growth, particularly in view of patriarch Deng Xiaoping's failing health. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday quoted SPC officials as saying the central Government would 'strengthen macro-level adjustments and controls' over prices. In the past six months, Beijing has reinstated elements of central planning, like grain coupons to keep down the prices of foodstuff and other necessities. Provincial newspapers have hinted that a number of cadres associated with former party chiefs Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang have expressed opposition to this apparent retrogression. The SPC officials told Xinhua that last December, retail food prices in 35 large and medium-sized cities had continued to go up. 'In the coming months, the task for suppressing inflation remains very tough,' said an official in the SPC's Department of Regulations on Markets and Prices. Yesterday, the China Securities Newspaper released an article by Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji urging that the development of stock markets be pursued in a positive but stable manner. 'On the one hand, the development of modern securities markets is an important event in the reform and open-door policy,' Mr Zhu wrote. 'On the other hand, even as they inject vitality into the national economy, they also create unprecedented complex questions.' 'There is still long way to go to establish a standardised, mature and open securities market,' he said, adding that 'experiments' in this area must be geared towards ensuring stability. Analysts said the use of the word 'experiments' meant the authorities could slow down the pace of the development of the 'shareholding economy' should problems including inflation and speculation persist. The authorities have pressed ahead with tighter control of land use in the interest of ensuring sufficient acreage for grain. Yesterday, the Guangdong National Land Department held a meeting in Dongguan to discuss the use of land in the Pearl River Estuary. Cadres attending the function were asked to strictly observe regulations, including curtailing golf course projects and other examples of the misuse of farmland. The authorities disclosed that from 1991, 22,600 hectares of arable land in Guangdong had been laying idle because of non-agricultural projects. Officials in the State Statistics Bureau warned yesterday that farmland nationwide had shrunk by as much as 1.07 million hectares last year.