Mayor pledges to implement 'strictest-ever' land use policy Authorities in Shanghai have announced an economic growth target of 9 per cent for this year and unveiled plans to tighten control of land use amid central government calls to slow the economy. The target, revealed by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng in an annual policy address at the opening of the annual Shanghai People's Congress meeting, if realised, would mark an end to 15 years of double-digit economic growth. 'Transformation of the economic growth model holds the key to sustained, stable and healthy economic development,' he said in his fourth policy speech since taking office as mayor in 2003. Shanghai's gross domestic product exceeded 1 trillion yuan last year for the first time, rising an annual 12 per cent and exceeding the government's target of 10 per cent. China's economy grew 10.7 per cent last year. The recent peak in Shanghai's economic growth was 14.2 per cent recorded in 2004, at a time when the central government was seeking to slow the nation's economy. Analysts say the city has relied heavily on exports and property speculation as pillars of the economy, but that model has come under fire, especially after the ousting of Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu over a corruption scandal. 'We will work to restructure the economy, vigorously promoting environmental protection and greater conservation and efficiency in the use of energy, resources and land,' Mr Han said. Shanghai's housing prices fell 3.2 per cent last year, compared with a more than 9 per cent annual rise in 2005, Mr Han said, marking an apparent victory for moves to slow property speculation. However, analysts warn those figures include all types of housing in the city. Shanghai would implement the 'strictest-ever' land use policies while encouraging construction of more low-cost housing, Mr Han said. Property development benefits local governments by providing tax revenue and opportunities for corruption, leading cities to baulk when central authorities try to curb speculation. Shanghai's economy will benefit from several infrastructure projects as part of preparations to host the World Expo in 2010 and bid to transform the city into an international shipping centre, Mr Han said. He also repeated the goal of making Shanghai a global economic, financial and trade centre. Due to rising land and labour costs, Shanghai has faced more competition from other mainland cities for attracting investment. Shanghai's retail sales, an indicator of consumption, rose 13 per cent last year - the fastest growth since 1998, the mayor said. Exports surged more than 25 per cent last year. The city plans for investment in environmental protection to reach 3 per cent of GDP this year. The government aims to cut energy consumption and reduce emissions of major pollutants by 2 per cent, in part by closing down a power plant.