Up to eight mainland ministries could be abolished and turned into holding companies in a far-reaching government revamp likely to be approved by the National People's Congress next month. Others will be merged, with up to one-third of civil servants laid off or transferred to other departments. Beijing has yet to publish its final blueprint for the new structure, designed to be more suitable to a market economy. A Ministry of Personnel official said Congress would approve reforms, but the proposals were still being finalised and the final outcome was not clear. Under one plan, eight ministries will be turned into holding companies - Electronics, Chemical, Machinery, Coal, Metallurgy, Electric Power, Post and Telecommunications and Internal Trade. The administrative functions of these ministries will be transferred to the State Planning Commission and State Economic and Trade Commission. Both of these bodies will become more powerful after the shake-up. The planning commission will be responsible for macro-economic policy and the trade commission will be in charge of industry, consumption and reform of state firms. Meanwhile, the Railway and Transport ministries and the Civil Aviation Administration will be merged and will form a transport commission. The Forestry and Water Resources ministries will join with the Agriculture Ministry and the Labour, Civil Affairs and Personnel ministries will merge and will form the social welfare and insurance ministry. The Government has already replaced several ministries with holding companies, including Aviation, Non-Ferrous Metals and Petroleum. The reorganisation will result in tens of thousands of people losing their 'black gauze hats', the nickname for government jobs. However, many will be re-employed in firms set up under the new holding companies. One official said civil servants would be treated better than laid-off workers and efforts would be made to place them into companies. The reforms would help reduce the Government's financial burden, one official said. State firms would sell their housing to employees, while small and loss-making companies would be sold to workers or to outside investors. State companies would also be listed, shifting their financial liabilities from state banks to shareholders. A meeting was held yesterday to examine qualifications of deputies to the ninth National People's Congress. A total of 2,979 deputies will be elected to represent provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, Hong Kong and the PLA.