A SENIOR party leader has warned Beijing lawmakers not to neglect national interest in drafting economic legislation to help develop a market economy. Qiao Shi, a Politburo Standing Committee member and chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC), stressed that local interest had to abide by national interest in the lawmaking process. ''[We must] avoid inappropriate emphasis on local interest and powers,'' said Mr Qiao, referring to the tendency of local governments to fight for more powers and preferential policies in their drive for economic reforms. Speaking at the closing of a NPC Standing Committee meeting, Mr Qiao underscored the need to strengthen economic legislation to facilitate the development of a market economy. He quoted patriarch Deng Xiaoping as saying that ''to have laws are better than none at all''. Reforms should be preceded by the enactment of relevant laws, said Mr Qiao in calling for the ''appropriate'' abolition of some conventional practices in order to accelerate the pace of economic legislation. ''We should try to avoid the scenario of the drafting of economic laws falling behind the needs of economic reforms,'' he said, warning against inter-departmental wrangling, which might delay the drafting process. While emphasising the importance of tapping the expertise of academics for the drafting of the legislation, Mr Qiao also called for a careful study of the experience of foreign countries. Those which have been proven a success and appear suitable for the Chinese economy could be borrowed, he said. ''Market economy is an open economy and an international economy. Some laws related to the Chinese market economy have to dovetail with international laws and practices, correspondingly. ''This will be beneficial to the convergence of the Chinese and international economies and enable China to compete in international economy.'' According to the China News Service, Mr Qiao said some new laws on economy were urgently needed. These included laws governing the operation of companies, real estate, arbitration, budget, bank, foreign trade, insurance and labour protection. Mr Qiao said the existing laws, drafted for a planned economy, needed to be thoroughly reviewed. Meanwhile, NPC vice-chairman Tian Jiyun told the Legal Daily there had been a major gap between the work of economic legislation and the practical needs of the society. He said the NPC standing body had already taken effective measures to step up the drafting of laws. People's congresses at localities would also be encouraged to improve the drafting of laws and to get experience for nationwide application, said Mr Tian.