BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wants to cut the number of ministries and ministerial positions by nearly half in an effort to improve government efficiency, a close aide said on Thursday. "The prime minister is preparing a plan for a ministerial reduction," said Ali Mussawi. "The plan aims to cut the government to 25 ministerial positions by merging the ministries that perform overlapping functions," in order to make them more efficient, he told AFP. There are currently 44 cabinet members, including ministers of state and deputy prime ministers. They preside over 47 ministries, with Maliki interim head of defence, interior and security.