The planned merger of the Ministry of Electronics Industry (MEI) and Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) would speed up, rather than slow down, the development of the mainland's telecoms sector, according to an industry official. Yang Zhongliang, president of China National Postal and Telecommunications Appliances Corp, controlled by the MPT, said the telecom ministry had detailed plans to help it meet projected growth targets. 'Officials are eager to accomplish, if not exceed, the target set for this year,' Mr Yang said. He said the projections for fixed-asset investment this year were conservative. An MPT national conference in January laid down the targets for this year which include: fixed-asset investments of 130 billion yuan (about HK$120.97 billion), an additional 17 million lines of central office telephone exchanges, 10 million lines of mobile-phone exchanges, and 20 million telephone subscribers, of which eight million will be mobile-phone subscribers. Last year, about 170 billion yuan was invested in fixed assets in the industry. At the end of December, the total capacity of the central office telephone exchange reached 110 million lines, the number of telephone subscribers stood at 83.5 million and mobile-phone subscribers totalled more than 13 million. The figures did not feature those achieved and planned by another telecom service provider, China United Telecommunications (Unicom), whose shareholders include the MEI and the Ministry of Railways, but not the MPT. Mr Yang said the restructuring should be positive for the development of Unicom, widely seen to have been held back by the powerful MPT. The merged entity, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom Industries, will adopt its new name from April 10. MPT Minister Wu Jichuan will head the merged ministry while MEI vice-minister and Unicom chairman Liu Jianfeng will become executive vice-president. Lu Xinkui and Qu Weizhi from the MEI and MPT officials Yang Xianzu and Zhou Deqiang will be appointed vice-ministers.