THE Government is set to ask legislators for $1 billion to keep the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) running until March. A source said the money would maintain the PAA's operations for another nine months, including consultancy fees and wages. He said he believed the Legislative Council would approve the funding. Even if the Government did not seek further funds from Legco, the authority's existing financial resources, awarded to keep it running until the end of June, could be stretched to August. It is understood the Government plans to table the funding request at the end of next month. Officials are hopeful that members will approve the funds and keep up momentum on the airport projects. If funds are refused, the PAA will have to be dissolved. It has been estimated that the cost of abandonment - including compensation for termination of contracts - could be as much as $100 million. The source said a reported call by senior Chinese official Mr Lu Ping for Britain to cut debts to under $5 billion was impractical. He admitted that borrowings of more than $5 billion or a delay in the airport railway to cut borrowings would breach the Memorandum of Understanding on the airport projects. Because cost estimates were only roughly calculated before the signing of the understanding, he said, it was necessary for both sides to reach a new agreement. However, the Deputy Director of the State Council's Hongkong and Macau Affairs Office, Mr Wong Qiren, said Britain should abide by the understanding. Mr Wong said it would be a violation of the understanding for the Hongkong Government to approve funding for the PAA without China's blessing. Legislator Mr Henry Tang Ying-yen, a member of the influential Business and Professionals Federation, said after meeting Chinese leaders in Beijing that China had taken a more positive attitude towards the construction of the new airport projects. Despite suggestions that Shenzhen airport could make Chek Lap Kok unnecessary, Mr Tang said Chinese leaders had not raised the subject. He said he would assess proposals for funding the PAA with respect to their value for money. If the amount needed to disband the PAA was the same as that needed to keep it going, Mr Tang said he would rather keep it going.