TOP policy-makers in China ended their annual National Economic Work Conference in Beijing yesterday with a new call to clamp down on inflation. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) reported the delegates agreed during the three-day meeting that cadres should maintain their vigilance to further curb inflation in the coming year. The meeting was attended by Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister Li Peng and Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji. In addition to setting the economic agenda for next year, the meeting also laid down three specific instructions for the cadres to follow for the remainder of the year - further highlighting the urgency of the issue. Maintain a strict control over the issue of the year-end bonus. Provide assistance to disaster-stricken victims. Speed up the collection of tax and avoid deficits. In the past, cadres often took advantage of Lunar New Year to award themselves handsome bonuses. Such perks were said to have been responsible for an alarming increase in government spending and fuelling inflation. Xinhua said while the delegates agreed the economy had improved this year, they also said there was no room for complacency. Top issues for next year included a further strengthening of agriculture, acceleration of enterprise reform and beefing up the macro-control ability of the Government over the economy. The meeting emphasised that financial departments should improve their policing of the market and maintain an orderly financial market. The meeting also stressed China would further reform the foreign trade sector and adopt more international trading practices. Preferential treatment for foreign investors would also gradually be phased out providing a level playing field for local and foreign businesses. However, it confirmed that the five Special Economic Zones - Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, Xiamen and Hainan - would be allowed to continue their 'pioneer' status so the rest of the country could learn from their experience. Analysts said most of the issues discussed in the meeting had been agreed last October when the Communist Party held the Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee. They said the fact the meeting voiced its concern over the problem of tax collections and the Special Economic Zones indicated Beijing still faced pressure from the regions in implementing its economic policies. The Ministry of Finance and Taxation Administration warned this week that China could face a serious shortfall in tax revenue and complained that local governments were dodging tax designated for the central coffers. Local tax collectors were accused of delaying the collections and payments of consumption tax and value-added tax, which are the main tax earners, to the central treasury.