LEGISLATORS yesterday pressed the Government to cut the $355 million it is seeking for eight design contracts for Chek Lap Kok airport. The request was made by legislators from the United Democrats of Hongkong (UDHK) and the Liberal Party on the ad hoc group on airport finance. They are considering a total cash plea for the Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) of $564 million. They said five earlier design contracts had ended up costing only $85 million, after the Government had at first estimated that they would cost $236 million. Legislators questioned whether the Government had also got the estimate wrong this time around. The chief executive of the PAA, Hank Townsend, attributed the lower cost of the five design contracts to bidding on a fixed-price lump-sum basis. ''The tenders received were highly competitive, ranging from 86 per cent to 26 per cent of the PAA's budget,'' he said. Cheung Man-kwong, of the UDHK, said he was worried that any savings made on the eight design contracts would be left idle. Liberal Party member Steven Poon Kwok-lim said the over-estimate in contract prices and office expenditure reflected poor management in the PAA. Mr Townsend said he did not want to leave the PAA short of funds. Although the PAA had saved money by adopting fixed-price contracts for the five design contracts, Mr Townsend said a decision had yet to be made on whether to use fixed-price contracts for the remaining eight. Financial Secretary Hamish Macleod assured legislators that any surplus would be set aside for other PAA-related spending. Despite legislators' criticisms of the funding proposal, Lau Wah-sum, another Liberal Party member, said his party would support the proposal. Albert Chan Wai-yip from the UDHK said no decision had been taken by his party. The funding proposal will be tabled in the Finance Committee next Friday for final approval. Proposals for the government-funded airport programme projects will be put forward soon.