BEIJING has reimposed price ceilings on most staple food items in a bid to rein in soaring prices across the country. The latest price control measures are a last-ditch effort by the leadership to keep inflation, which surged to 24.2 per cent last month, in check. The July figure was seen by analysts as an alarming signal that the year-old anti-inflation campaign by Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji may be crumbling. Official reports said economic figures released by the Government showed that food prices for city dwellers rose 31.9 per cent over the same period last year. Prices of grains jumped 57.8 per cent and vegetables soared 29.7 per cent. Ding Guangren, head of the Communist Party's propaganda department, admitted that anti-inflation measures were now the number one task of the Government, in a meeting with a Hong Kong media delegation. But Mr Ding expressed optimism that the damage inflicted by the recent typhoons and floods would not worsen the inflation crisis and the Government was confident it could bring prices under control. ''We have grain reserves. Normal disasters are not going to affect [us] much,'' Mr Ding was quoted by the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao as saying. His confidence was apparently prompted by the latest price control measures introduced by various local governments recently. According to a report by the Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA), cities and provinces like Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shandong, Shaanxi and Sichuan have all re-established price controls. In Beijing, the Government has issued special orders instructing all state-run suppliers to increase the supply of pork by 2,000 kilograms to make sure the price rises would not be more than 10 per cent. Similar measures were taken in Shanghai where the local Commerce Department was under instructions to make sure it could fill 30 per cent of the daily vegetable orders. The HKCNA also said disaster-stricken provinces like Liaoning, Jilin and Guangdong had also introduced emergency measures to ensure adequate supply of most daily necessities like vegetables, salt, matches and soap. In his meeting with the Hong Kong delegation, Mr Ding also gave an assurance over the health of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, 90. Mr Ding was quoted by the Wen Wei Po as saying: ''Comrade Xiaoping's health is very good. ''He still sticks to taking a daily walk to build himself up physically. ''He walks more than I do,'' added Mr Ding who is 25 years younger, and is Mr Deng's cards partner. Mr Ding said people ''cared very much'' about Mr Deng's health and wished him a healthy and long life. ''I will extend the concerns of the Hong Kong media to Xiaoping,'' he said.