State pension fund official tipped to be statistics chief

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 2008, 12:00am

A former vice-governor of Gansu , who is a senior executive of a state pension fund - is expected to become statistics chief in a reshuffle of central government organs, according to official sources.

Sun Xiaoxi , 55, who was vice-chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, would succeed National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) commissioner Xie Fuzhan , who was this week promoted to a senior cabinet job that directly advises Premier Wen Jiabao , the sources said.

Mr Xie has been named director of the State Council Policy Research Office and assumed his new job this week. NBS chief economist Yao Jingyuan yesterday confirmed Mr Xie had left but could not confirm the new appointment. His name was still on the bureau's website.

At an internal meeting with senior officials early this week, Mr Xie announced that his deputy, Lin Xianyu , had been appointed to take over his duties overseeing the bureau's daily management.

However, sources said Mr Sun was tipped to be the most likely candidate to succeed Mr Xie, and the appointment would be announced soon.

But another source with links to the NBS said an outsider would be made commissioner.

The appointment would be a sideways move for Mr Sun, as the statistics agency is a sub-ministry organ, so he would enjoy vice-ministerial status - in a position akin to a vice-governorship or deputy at the ministerial-level social security fund.

Mr Sun served the vice-governorship in the northwestern province between 2002 and 2007 before being transferred to the social security fund, an institution managing more than 500 billion yuan (HK$562.23 billion) in assets for the state government. His transfer came during a major reshuffle of top executives in the fund in January this year, in which former central People's Bank of China governor and Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong was appointed chairman.

As a veteran planning official, Mr Sun had served various positions with the Comprehensive Department of the former State Planning Commission, and National Development and Planning Commission - now the National Development and Reform Commission - between 1985 and 2002 before he was made Gansu vice-governor.

Zuo Xiaolei , chief economist with Galaxy Securities, said Mr Sun's experience suggested he was familiar with statistics work. The main duty of the planning commission's Comprehensive Department was data collection.

Mr Sun obtained a master's degree in economics at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 1985. He earned his first degree of engineering at East China Petroleum College in 1976.

'With his academic training in economics and his long experience with data collection while at the planning agency, Mr Sun is capable of leading the statistics bureau,' Ms Zuo said.

However, she warned that the bureau was facing new challenges, such as the compilation of a controversial green GDP.

Mainland statistics have also often been criticised for their poor quality and inconsistency.

Foreign economists challenge their accuracy and suggest that they are inflated by local officials to exaggerate their achievements.