* Govt agencies drafting plan to merge CBRC and CIRC - Bloomberg report
* Could be announced after National People’s Congress in March (Adds comments by the State Council Information Office, bullets)
BEIJING, Jan 26 (Reuters) - China is considering a merger of its banking and insurance regulators, Bloomberg News reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Government agencies under the direction of a Communist Party central reform group led by President Xi Jinping are drafting a plan that would combine the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), Bloomberg reported without naming its sources.
The State Council Information Office, which acts as the public relations arm of the government, said in a statement it does not have a grasp of the situation at the moment.
The CBRC and CIRC did not immediately respond to faxed requests for comment.
Regulators oversee different parts of China’s complex financial sector, and no single regulator has a complete picture of capital movements in the system. That complicates the job of authorities to catch market manipulators who secretly divert funds to risky financial products as they chase higher returns.
The plan, which is under discussion and may yet still change, could be announced after the National People’s Congress in March, Bloomberg reported, citing two of the people.
Alternative plans that have been discussed include creating a super-regulator that also brings into its fold the central bank and stock market watchdog, as well as giving the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) greater oversight over the other three main regulatory bodies, according to Bloomberg.
Xi has said that financial security is a vital part of national security. Last year, a Financial Stability and Development Committee was established with Vice Premier Ma Kai as its head.
Speculation of a super-regulator has been rife for years.
After the Chinese stock market crash of 2015, there was talk that China was considering bringing together its banking, insurance and securities regulators into a single super-commission.
The stock market crash was in part blamed on poor inter-agency coordination. (Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Yawen Chen in BEIJING; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)