GOVERNMENT officials have been bombarded by more than 1,000 questions from legislators on the spending estimates for the 1993/94 Budget. Although legislators promised after lodging 900 questions last year that they would try to avoid duplication this year, an avalanche of 1,064 questions had been lodged by 4.30 pm yesterday. The cut-off time for questions was supposed to have been 10 am yesterday, but legislators ignored the deadline and were still channelling paperwork to the Legco secretariat after 4.30. Officials have only until Friday to get all the answers. They have promised to try their best. While conceding that they could not turn away councillors' questions, officials have ruled that the late questions will have to wait. Replies for them will not be available by Friday. Anticipating the keen interest for councillors to grill the officials, the Finance Branch had already arranged to give various branch and department officials an extra day to get their answers ready. Mr James Sloan, the principal executive officer of the branch, said the Government was aiming to send back as many answers in one batch as possible. The remainder would be forwarded to legislators in small batches. The United Democrats were the most prolific interrogators, filing 300 queries. By subject area, health and welfare drew 300 questions, security 200 and environment, housing and transport another 300. Legislator Mr Albert Chan Wai-yip said the reason for even more questions this year was the number of big spending items. These include the $7.5 billion additional commitment under the Capital Investment Fund and the $4.9 billion for the sewage treatment scheme, as well as the huge expenses on airport projects. Although it was suggested after last year's exercise that Legislative Council panels hold meetings to collect and co-ordinate questions, Mr Chan said it was difficult for members to find time to attend meetings. Conceding that there was likely to be some overlapping in questions, Mr Chan agreed that members should pursue such an arrangement more rigorously next year.