Central planners ended their annual conference in Beijing yesterday, calling on local cadres not to stray from state financial plans laid down by the party's central leadership. Premier Zhu Rongji, currently visiting Malaysia, sent a letter to the conference. The meeting was chaired by Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao. Xinhua quoted Mr Wen as saying that China's priorities for 2000 were to stimulate domestic demand, restructure the economy, develop advanced technology, deepen continuing reforms and improve people's living standards. 'The broad directions of our economy for next year have been set,' Mr Wen said. 'The key now is how are we going to implement them.' The planning conference followed a similar economic gathering held last week during which President Jiang Zemin stressed the importance of reforming China's state-owned enterprises, many of which are lumbering under huge debts. Although Mr Zhu was not present, he said in his letter that local cadres must not 'stray from policies and decisions made by the central [leadership]'. 'You should have a good grasp of the progress of your work, stop dragging your feet or passing the buck, and don't be afraid of offending other people [in your work],' Mr Zhu wrote. In his address, Mr Wen laid down three vital goals for cadres to follow next year. The first was to strictly adhere to the spending programmes set by Beijing, especially those to be financed by state bonds, and improve the vetting procedures for funding. Second, cadres were to look at the big picture in analysing and managing the economy. They were also urged to prepare themselves for the drafting of the Tenth Five-Year Plan - a blueprint for the economy. The Vice-Premier, however, reminded cadres in charge of financial planning that they could no longer dictate the economy to the extent central planners used to and that they must allow local governments and departments leeway in managing their own affairs.