THE Beijing Municipal People's Congress has taken a step forward in supervising local government spending. Local lawmakers reported that since the passage in January of the Regulation on the Supervision of the Budget of the City of Beijing, municipal officials had been more careful in spending central government money. 'Supervising the Budget of the Government is a first major step in supervising the overall work of the Government,' Xinhua yesterday quoted municipal legislator Gong Shuji as saying. Other lawmakers said it was because of lax laws and inadequate supervision that ousted party secretary of Beijing Chen Xitong and other corrupt officials were able to divert official funds for private use. According to the regulation, legislators could scrutinise the budgets of all municipal government units. Xinhua said they had proposed a number of ways to cut spending. Earlier this year, more than 20 clauses of the local Budget were revised, taking in these suggestions. Legal experts in Beijing pointed out, however, that there was still no comparable law for the National People's Congress to supervise the national Budget. They added that cadres in the party and Government feared that such a national law would give the NPC too much power. Meanwhile, the city of Chongqing in Sichuan has pioneered the system of making government purchases by bidding. It recently bought 60 cars using this system. Xinhua said this transparent 'government purchasing system' would cut down on expenditure by preventing corruption. Chongqing authorities said they would extend the bidding system to areas including conferences, banquets and maintenance services.