THE Provisional Airport Authority (PAA) came under fire from legislators yesterday for discriminating against ethnic Chinese staff. Legislators sitting on the ad hoc group on the airport core programme condemned the PAA for not having a localisation policy and employing people on different terms. ''While expatriates living in foreign countries or Hong Kong would be employed on expatriate terms, ethnic Chinese residing overseas or the territory would be hired on local terms. How can the authority say that they don't judge people by their skin?'' said Cheung Man-kwong. He said the policy was absolutely ''racial discrimination''. Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said the PAA switched between the principles of following the market and fairness and did not seem to have a localisation policy. The PAA's Human Resources Director Sophia Kao said it had always been the policy of the authority to employ the best qualified person available for the job, irrespective of race and nationality. She said their place of origin would not decide their employment terms as the final decision would hinge on market conditions. She said expatriates hired on expatriate terms by their former employers would continue to enjoy those terms, regardless of their length of stay in Hong Kong. In the case of an ethnic Chinese holding a foreign passport but competing among local staff for the same post, she said they would be employed on local terms. Although she stressed that some ethnic Chinese with foreign passports had been employed on expatriate terms, she could not provide the number of those cases among the 92 senior managerial or professional staff on expatriate terms. Ms Kao said the authority had a set of guidelines on employment and had to follow market trends to attract suitable candidates. She said it was inevitable to have more expatriate staff during the construction of the new airport projects due to a lack of local experts. But, she added, the authority was aiming to hire more locals by the time the Chek Lap Kok airport was in operation. According to figures provided by the PAA, all the 470 staff working at the managerial/professional level and secretarial/support level are on local terms. At the senior managerial/professional level, 102 staff are on local terms with 92 on expatriate terms. No figures were offered on the employment terms among the 25 staff working as directors or senior managers. Meanwhile, legislators also strongly criticised the PAA of failing to inform them about awarding an extra $50 million to the Mott Consortium who won the fixed price contract for the airport terminal design at $536 million. Project Director Douglas Oakervee said the PAA had to pay an extra $50 million to cover extra design work outside the original scope. Major changes included enlarging the size of the commercial retail area, moving the railway westward so it could equally serve the second passenger terminal and reducing the number of level changes. Mr Oakervee said the extra work was needed because the original master plan had not gone into enough detail to accommodate the new needs. The director of the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office, Billy Lam Chung-lun, said the Government had supported the PAA's move to change the design contract. Legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said the PAA should tell legislators about any changes in design before its approval by the PAA board.