SHANGHAI (AFP) - Chinas Premier Wen Jiabao has called for more steps to fight stubbornly high inflation, especially surging food and housing prices which could threaten social stability, state media reported. High inflation has persisted despite government moves to rein in soaring food and housing prices, which officials fear could spark social unrest as citizens grow angry at higher costs. The benchmark consumer price index rose 6.1 percent year-on-year in September, slowing only marginally from a 6.2 percent rise in August and retreating from a more than three-year high of 6.5 percent in July. The Chinese leader said ensuring the livelihood of the people had a direct link to preserving social stability, the official Xinhua news agency said in a report late Saturday, which was carried by state newspapers on Sunday. Measures to control prices must be implemented at the grass-roots level, Wen said while on a visit to the southern province of Guangxi last week. China has already implemented a number of policies over the past year to try to slow the rise in prices, including restricting the amount of money banks can lend and hiking interest rates five times since October last year. Wen said the government would control food prices by ensuring adequate supply, increasing reserves of staples and cutting costs of transporting food from producers to the market. Food prices are of particular concern in China, as they affect the daily lives of everyone in the country, with foodstuffs accounting for more than one-third of the monthly spending of the average Chinese consumer. In September, the key food component of inflation rose 13.4 percent year-on-year, unchanged from August, though analysts expect food prices to moderate later this year on greater pork supply and a good grain harvest. Wen also said steps to control property prices would remain in place, despite worries such measures are shutting off a major funding source for cash-strapped local governments by curbing land sales. Since the beginning of the year, the government has banned the purchase of second homes in some cities, increased minimum downpayments for home buyers and introduced property taxes in Shanghai and Chongqing. China plans to invest more than $700 billion in low-cost housing to help those priced out of the property market, by building or renovating 36 million homes over the next five years, the government has said. The government must ensure funding for affordable housing, improve the quality of design and strengthen regulation over the scheme, Wen said