The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Zhang Zuoji, is likely to become the head of the ministerial-ranking Development Research Centre of the State Council as part of efforts to strengthen the powerful government think-tank. Mr Zhang's appointment is part of a wide-ranging reshuffle of government ministers following the formation of a new State Council to be headed by premier-in-waiting Wen Jiabao. Mr Wen is expected to be elected to the post at the closing ceremony of the NPC on March 18. Zheng Silin, former deputy party secretary of the Central Big Enterprises Work Commission, will replace Mr Zhang. Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng is expected to step down to take over the National Council for Social Security Fund. The post of head of the council is traditionally given to the retiring finance minister. The current head is Liu Zhongli, Mr Xiang's predecessor. It had been speculated that Mr Xiang was a strong candidate to become a state councillor in the new government to be announced at the end of the NPC. Hua Jianmin, a close associate of outgoing President Jiang Zemin, is widely tipped to become the powerful secretary-general of the State Council, whose membership and new structure will be approved at the NPC. Li Yizhong, chairman of Sinopec, one of China's two largest oil and petrochemical conglomerates, will be appointed as party secretary of the State Asset Management Commission, which will be created as part of government reforms. It is unclear who will replace Mr Li as chairman of the group, which has listed part of its assets on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges. As widely expected, Li Rongrong, Minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, will be appointed to head the State Asset Management Commission. Mr Zhang, 58, has been minister of labour and social security since 1998. With a university degree in Russian, he has been involved in labour issues since 1987. His appointment at the Development Research Centre has come as the leadership is calling for 'every possible means' to create jobs and increase employment. Jin Renqing, director-general of the State Administration of Taxation, is expected to replace Mr Xiang as finance minister.