The central government is set to promote several elite technocrats to head the powerful ministries responsible for economic planning, finance and taxation as part of a wide-ranging reshuffle, informed sources say. The business community is expected to welcome the moves as the officials involved have all played key roles in plotting and carrying out the daunting tasks of reforming the economic, financial and taxation systems. According to the sources, Ma Kai, deputy secretary-general of the State Council, is expected to replace Zeng Peiyan as the minister of the State Development Planning Commission, the chief economic planner. Mr Zeng is widely expected to become a deputy premier of the new State Council to be formed and approved at the National People's Congress next month. The sources said Jin Renqing, director-general of the State Administration of Taxation, will be appointed executive deputy minister of finance, which could mean he would replace Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng at the NPC. At the NPC meeting, Mr Xiang is expected to become a state councillor responsible for finance and taxation. Lastly, Lou Jiwei, deputy minister of finance, has been tipped to replace Mr Jin at the State Administration of Taxation. All those taking up new positions have impressive credentials. Mr Ma, 56, from Shanghai, is a leading representative of China's rising generation of technocrats. With postgraduate degrees in political economics from the prestigious Chinese People's University, he built his reputation as a reformist in the Beijing municipal government, focusing his efforts on economic restructuring and pricing reforms. His efforts caught the attention of the central government, which made him a deputy minister of the State Commission for Economic Restructuring in June 1993. In 1995, he became a deputy minister of the State Planning Commission and was appointed a deputy secretary-general of the State Council in 1998. Mr Ma is expected to preside over an enlarged State Development Planning Commission, which is soon to shed the word 'planning' in its title to reflect China's accelerating transition to a market-driven economy. The commission is expected to take over the State Council Office for Economic Restructuring and the Development Research Centre of the State Council to strengthen its functions on macro-economic forecasting and restructuring the economy in line with World Trade Organisation regulations. One of Mr Ma's top priorities is expected to focus on removing regulatory hurdles to give the private sector equal access to funding and investments. Mr Jin, 58, from Jiangsu, has long been considered a strong candidate to succeed Mr Xiang as finance minister. With a university degree in finance, he began his career as a clerk at a grain bureau in a remote county in Yunnan province, where he worked for more than 20 years and became a deputy governor in 1985. In 1991, he was appointed a deputy minister of finance. After three years as a vice-mayor of Beijing, he became the nation's chief tax man in 1998. Tax revenues rose rapidly under his leadership. On the orders of Premier Zhu Rongji, Mr Jin presided over the controversial crackdown on widespread tax evasion. Mr Lou, taking over from Mr Jin, appears to be the right candidate to further the complicated tax reforms. Born in 1950, he is among a group of elite economists advising the premier on economic matters and is known as one of Mr Zhu's favoured proteges. With degrees in computer sciences and econometrics, Mr Lou, as a deputy finance minister, played a key role in designing the value-added tax system, promoting the bond market and wrestling deals from local authorities that increased the central government's share of tax revenues to 60 per cent from 40 per cent.