A protege of premier Zhu Rongji has been made a vice-minister of finance, a statement said yesterday. Former vice-governor of Guizhou, Lou Jiwei, has been recalled to Beijing, Xinhua said. A confidant and former secretary of the new premier, Mr Lou was transferred to Guizhou in 1995 and has been credited with bringing Hong Kong and foreign investment to the backward province. Xinhua also named other economic directors. Shao Jihui was named the director of machine-building industry while Zhang Baoming becomes director of the coal industry. The appointments show Mr Zhu wants to speed up the restructuring of the central Government which was announced last month. According to the plan, the State Council will have only 29 ministries after the reorganisation, and former units such as the ministry of coal industry are to be absorbed by the State Economic and Trade Commission. Xinhua also said two vice-foreign ministers - Liu Huaqiu and Tian Zengpei - had stepped down and one of the two vacancies was filled by Ji Peiding, whose former title was assistant foreign minister. Another notable change was the transfer of vice-chemical minister Chen Shineng to the relatively minor Bureau of Light Industry as director. Mr Chen was transferred to Guizhou in 1989 and only recalled to Beijing two years ago. Beijing's municipal authorities said yesterday that 98 incompetent cadres had been dismissed in the past four years. A further 69 were subjected to 'administrative sanctions' for poor behaviour, while 75 were demoted, Xinhua said. But of 90,000 city officials, more than 56,000 were classed as 'excellent' in city government reviews.