PREMIER Zhu Rongji is consolidating his hold on economic ministries through a series of appointments at vice-ministerial level. Long-time aide Guo Shuqing, a secretary-general of the just-abolished State Commission for the Reform of the Economic Structure, is tipped to become vice-minister of the State Development Planning Commission. This is in addition to recent promotions of other Zhu proteges, which include the appointment of Lou Jiwei as Executive Vice-Minister of Finance, Li Jiange as vice-head of the Office for Restructuring the Economy and Wu Xiaoling as head of the State Administration on Foreign Exchange. Mr Guo, an elite economist, is a close adviser to Mr Zhu on economic reform. 'Zhu will promote more followers to positions of departmental heads and vice-ministers in financial, banking and economic units,' a source said. 'With ministerial-level appointments, however, Zhu has to get the support of the party's organisation department, which is controlled by President Jiang Zeminand Politburo member Hu Jintao.' Both Mr Jiang and Mr Hu have made it known to Mr Zhu that his authority over personnel will not extend beyond the financial and economic departments. Mr Zhu has been reshaping the structure of the ministries under his control. A longtime critic of the State Development Planning Commission and its precursor, the State Planning Commission, the premier has moved some of its power to the State Economic and Trade Commission. 'Zhu has criticised the planning commission for interference in the marketplace,' an economic source said in Beijing yesterday. The source said the planning commission's investment and hi-tech development porfolios had been 'transferred' to the State Economic and Trade Commission. Mr Zhu urged his ministers in recent talks to keep a low profile and not to divulge initiatives until 'conditions are mature'. 'We must do more and talk less and adopt a down-to-earth work style,' he reportedly said.