A newly created national insurance regulator will start operations tomorrow following a long-awaited State Council ruling on its establishment. Ma Yongwei, former president of the People's Insurance Co of China, would become chief of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, officials confirmed yesterday. The launch of the regulator is more than six weeks behind schedule. Premier Zhu Rongji first proposed the commission be set up on October 1, but the launch was held back by procedural delays, industry observers said. A commission official said the launch would be followed by rules detailing the role and function of the commission. Until now, regulatory oversight of the insurance industry has been shared by the People's Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance and the State Development and Planning Commission. The division of the regulatory process has made supervision fragmented and inefficient. The move to concentrate power in a single body is aimed at strengthening regulatory oversight of the industry. To ensure a smooth handover of power, government departments that previously had macro-control over the sector would have representation on the commission's board, according to the officials. Beijing is rationalising its financial regulators as it draws a dividing line between four main branches of business - banking, securities and futures, insurance, and trust and investment.