The Finance Committee will decide today whether to approve $296.4 million funds for deepening the Rambler Channel to enable the latest generation of container vessels to operate freely. The Port Development Board (PDB) made the application for the funds last week. The project will involve the dredging of about 250 hectares of seabed in Rambler Channel and its approaches, disposal of dredged material, formation, management and capping of mud pits at East Sha Chau to accommodate the contaminated dredged materials, and environmental monitoring. The PDB says the South East Tsing Yi Port Development Study in 1991 had recommended the dredging of the Rambler Channel. The new generation of vessels were already coming into service and required access to all berths in Container Terminal 1 to CT8. As some vessels could not enter or leave the port with the total load they wished, ship operators were having to resort to rotation of port calls. By the middle of next year the number of extra-deep vessels on the Europe-Asia and USA-Asia trades would make such rotation unviable. Hong Kong had to have adequate depth or be omitted from their schedules.