Zhang Ping was elected by the National People's Congress yesterday to head the mainland's top economic-planning agency. The appointment of Mr Zhang, 62, as the director of the National Development and Reform Commission caught observers a little by surprise because, compared with the other contenders for the post, little is known about the former deputy secretary general of the State Council. But it is not unusual for a cabinet deputy secretary general to be transferred to another ministerial position. What is more, Mr Zhang had once worked with the NDRC; he was a deputy head of the agency from August 2005 to January 2006. His previous stint with the commission did not put him under the media's glare, even though the agency - which sets economic growth targets, approves investment projects, issues product licences and controls key commodity prices - has one of the highest profiles in the central government. A Beijing-based financial analyst said that while at the NDRC, Mr Zhang was in charge of pricing issues and overseeing government control of prices of such commodities as oil, electricity and natural gas. 'Maybe China will rely more on pricing measures in macroeconomic controls after he assumes the position, or push ahead with pricing reforms,' the analyst said. The commission is expected to concentrate on macro-management of the national economy and loosen some of its grip on 'micro' matters, such as granting approvals to some investment projects, under the ministry restructuring plan passed by the NPC last week. Mr Zhang replaces Ma Kai , who has been appointed a state councillor and also secretary general of the State Council. The commission has 11 deputy directors, including some previously tipped by overseas media as contenders for the top job. 'Mr Zhang is a mild person. He has a wealth of experience working at the grass-roots level. You can find parallels when you compare his resume with that of Politburo member Wang Yang ,' an official source said. Both officials are from Anhui , although Mr Zhang is nine years older than Mr Wang. Born in Xiao county, a farming area in northern Anhui, Mr Zhang studied at the Anhui School of Banking, a secondary specialist school, from 1963 to 1966. Resumes of mainland officials are often bolstered by Party School degrees, but Mr Zhang's public record indicates he does not have such a qualification. Instead, he spent 13 years working in a small office of an Anhui county sub-branch of the People's Bank of China. He was promoted to the Anhui government's administrative office as a department secretary in 1981 and, since then, has held several positions, including Wuhu party secretary and mayor, assistant provincial governor, deputy governor and, in 2003, Anhui's deputy party secretary. Mr Zhang was Mr Wang's colleague when the latter was Anhui's planning commission director, deputy governor and deputy party secretary from 1992 to 1999. Mr Wang, believed to be close to Premier Wen Jiabao , was transferred to the NDRC as a deputy director in 1999 and appointed a deputy secretary general of the State Council in 2003.