China to tighten banking and insurance control

China to merge regulators create new ministries in biggest overhaul in years

China is set to create new ministries and merge the banking and insurance regulators in the biggest revamp of its cabinet in years, the parliament said Tuesday.

Established in 1998, CIRC conducts administration, supervision and regulatory functions over the Chinese insurance market.

Functions such as drafting key regulations and prudential oversight will be transferred to the PBOC, according to the document.

China Earthquake Administration and State Administration of Coal Mine Safety will be affiliated to the new ministry, while the State Administration of Work Safety will be dismantled.

At the top of the list is the government's plan to combine the insurance and banking regulators into one agency, according to the proposal introduced at the annual session of the rubber-stamp parliament.

Financial regulators have cracked down on major companies - even taking over Anbang Insurance this year - to get a handle on building risk and unwieldy debt that some analysts worry pose a serious threat to China's financial stability.

"China's whole regulatory system will change directions, from sector oversight to oversight of specific financial activities", said Betty Wang an economist at ANZ Bank.

The securities regulator - the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) - will remain a separate entity. "You don't want your monetary authority obsessed with supporting equity markets, because that can lead to bad macro policy", said Andrew Polk, a co-founding partner at research firm Trivium/China.

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Chinese authorities are preparing one of the country's largest government and institutional reforms, targeting mostly the financial sector.

Such regulatory arbitrage and risky cross-asset investments have anxious policymakers.

The commentary suggested the party will have greater influence and say in the government, or the State Council, which is headed by Premier Li Keqiang, some analysts say.

Several new ministries will be created, including a more encompassing Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas as well as ministries for emergency management, ecology and environment, and veteran affairs.

"Everyone seems to regard these departments as their own interests - giving up a piece of yourself is very heart-wrenching but it's a pleasure to take a piece of someone else", said an official at a ministry, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The proposed changes were discussed earlier in parliament Tuesday and are expected to be formally adopted on Wednesday.

When the plan is passed, the Cabinet will consist of 26 ministries and commissions in addition to the General Office of the State Council.

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