The Politburo yesterday endorsed a draft of a State Council restructuring plan that will be tabled for approval in the National People's Congress in two weeks' time.
The draft proposes reform and the reassignment of duties of various organisations under the State Council. Xinhua quoted the Politburo as saying the restructuring was a priority, as it was crucial for administrative reform.
However, the statement also hinted that the restructuring would not be radical.
Xinhua gave no details of the restructuring, but a report by mainland magazine Caijing yesterday cited anonymous sources as saying the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the State Oceanic Administration would be expanded and given more responsibilities.
Monitoring food safety, which is now taken up by several departments, would also be reorganised, Caijing said.
The meeting, chaired by Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping, who will be formally named state president at the NPC meeting, also endorsed nominations to key government leadership posts, Xinhua reported. The list will be endorsed by the NPC as a formality.
The NPC will announce who will fill top posts including those of president, vice-president, premier and vice-premiers, as well as chairmen for the NPC and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The appointments will mark the completion of the power transition from the fourth generation led by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to the fifth-generation leaders led by Xi and Li Keqiang, who will be named premier. Top party posts were already transferred to the new generation of leaders at the 18th party congress in November.
The 25-strong Politburo also announced that the second meeting of the party's Central Committee would be held from this Tuesday to Thursday. It would make final preparations for the NPC before its opening on March 5, Xinhua said. The CPPCC will be held largely concurrently and begin on March 3.
There has been speculation that the giant Ministry of Railways may be merged into the Ministry of Transport, while a mega Ministry of Culture may be created by amalgamating the General Administration of Press and Publication with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. However, the Caijing report said the latter was not likely. It also said there would be no major change of duties for the National Development and Reform Commission, despite earlier speculation.
Xinhua said the Politburo also reviewed the annual government report to be tabled for discussion at the NPC.