Premier Zhu Rongji yesterday launched a scathing attack on official corruption and extravagance, marking the start of what is due to be his last year in the post. He vowed to investigate and prosecute those who abused power for personal gain and also attacked wasteful cadres. Delivering his fourth report to the National People's Congress, he said: 'Some local authorities like to build ostentatious projects in order to make a good impression or show their achievements. 'Some launch unfeasible construction projects when they cannot even pay wages on time . . . Festivals and ceremonies of every conceivable description are celebrated during which the hosts vie with one another for lavishness. 'Officials use public funds for wining and dining, extravagant entertainment and private travel abroad . . . we must resolutely stop this tendency. 'All regions, departments and work units are obligated to formulate specific targets and measures for eliminating waste and reducing expenditure this year,' he said. The Premier, known for his hatred of corruption, once reportedly told his aides to prepare 100 coffins for corrupt officials and have one ready for himself, 'in case I get gunned down in the battle against them'. Mr Zhu struck a cautious but confident note in his Work Report, saying that China would overcome many hurdles brought by a slowing global economy and competition following its accession to World Trade Organisation (WTO) last December. He is due to step down as premier next year after winning respect for his honesty and steering the economy through turbulent times in the past four years. Mr Zhu spent much of his two-hour address yesterday on issues including boosting farmers' income, difficulties faced by low-income groups, China's accession to the WTO and the new role of the Government in a market-oriented economy. He told the 2,866 NPC delegates in the Great Hall of the People: 'Competition in the international market is becoming fiercer and trade protectionism is increasing.' In reviewing last year's achievements, he took the unusual step of saluting the Chinese people for their contribution. 'I would like to pay our highest respects to workers, farmers, intellectuals and cadres, to . . . officers and police, as well as to people from all walks of life. You have all been working hard in your own fields of endeavour,' he said. Mr Zhu's main focus was on domestic issues and he devoted only one page of his 27-page report to explaining China's foreign policies and emphasising his faith in the Hong Kong and Macau governments and Beijing's positions on Taiwan. On the mainland economy, Mr Zhu said China's abundant reserves - materials, food and foreign exchange - and huge domestic market would help the country to meet its challenges. He acknowledged many farmers were still struggling to make a living, that unemployment was rising and China was plagued by serious pollution problems. He said 'less competitive industries and enterprises' would lose out in the short term after WTO entry but urged the country to march on with 'confidence and vigour'. Zhang Sai, a delegate to the advisory Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who was invited to sit in on the session yesterday, said Mr Zhu's report was comprehensive and covered many crucial issues. However, he said he felt the Premier could have done better by elaborating more on the new role of the Government following the mainland's accession to the WTO: 'This is important because the Government is affected most by WTO entry. 'He could have said more on how the Government should adjust its functions.' NPC delegate Li Chunting, Communist Party Secretary of Shandong, was full of praise for the Premier, saying he gave him '120 out of 100'. An NPC delegate representing an aviation company in Hubei province, Cheng Yaokun, said more needed to be done to separate companies from the Government. 'I think enterprises should be given more autonomy so that they can be truly responsible for their own profits and losses . . . the Government should only play a guiding role,' Mr Cheng said.