Prime Minister Zhu Rongji has imposed deadlines for the accomplishment of key reforms he has unveiled since becoming head of the State Council last week. He says the 'commercialisation' of housing and medical benefits should basically be accomplished in one and two years respectively. A government source said yesterday Mr Zhu had tentatively decided the state would stop providing welfare housing to urban residents in a year's time. After this, state employees, including civil servants and workers in state-owned firms, would have to buy their apartments through a government-aided hire purchase scheme. They could settle the down-payment with the help of bank loans. After this, about one-eighth of their salaries would go towards mortgage payments. Employees with sufficient funds can buy a better apartment with the help of their work unit and government loans. The new Minister of Construction, Yu Zhengsheng, considered a reformer, has been given full authority by Mr Zhu to implement housing reforms. The source said the Zhu administration expected all state employees nationwide to buy their own medical insurance in about two years' time. A percentage of each worker's salary would go towards paying for medical benefits. Both central and local banks will be involved in providing bank loans to hospitals and other medical units. Political analysts in Beijing said Mr Zhu's reforms might go more smoothly in relatively rich cities along the coast, where it is estimated workers bank as much as half their salaries. But they said there would be resistance in provinces hard-hit by company bankruptcies such as the northeast, where hundreds of thousands of workers barely earn enough money to eat. Meanwhile, Mr Zhu and his aides are also mapping out ambitious plans for reforms in sectors such as grain distribution and the commercialisation of banks. By the middle of the year, the state will begin giving up much of its monopoly on grain distribution, even allowing non-state-owned firms to do the job. The analysts said reform of the grain distribution system had been helped by good harvests and low inflation over the past two years.