The economic growth target for this year has been revised upward from 7.2 per cent to 9 per cent, state media reported yesterday. The China Daily said the deputy secretary-general of the State Development and Reform Commission, Cao Yushu , announced the revision at a forum on Friday. 'This year, the whole-year GDP will maintain growth of about 9 per cent and is higher than the estimate of 7.2 per cent made at the start of the year,' Mr Cao was quoted as saying. If the target is met, it would mark a slight easing from the 9.1 per cent recorded last year. The mainland's economy grew 9.7 per cent in the first half of the year compared with last year. The State Information Centre forecast earlier that economic growth would slow to 8.2 per cent in the third quarter. Mr Cao was quoted as saying macroeconomic controls should be expanded if GDP growth exceeded the forecast. There has been much speculation about whether the central bank will raise interest rates for the first time in nine years to cool the overheating economy. Figures from July and last month show inflation has seen its fastest year-on-year growth in seven years at 5.3 per cent. But on Friday, Premier Wen Jiabao said during a visit to Russia that he believed inflation, which is running the fastest year-on-year high in seven years at 5.3 per cent in July and August, would actually slow in the second half of the year and would ease the pressure on the People's Bank of China. He pointed out that food prices, a main component of the consumer price index, had levelled off in recent months as a result of this summer's good harvest.