Legislators will investigate why two Urban Renewal Authority officials were laid off with a 'golden handshake' only months ahead of retirement. The Deputy director of the authority's property division, Paul Alexander, and an unnamed senior assistant director responsible for personnel matters were due to retire at the end of this year. They were among 24 senior executives made redundant last month in what the authority claimed was a streamlining of functions which involved disbanding its three construction and sales divisions. The personnel changes came after the body decided to limit its role to buying and clearing redevelopment sites, leaving construction of about 70,000 flats to private developers. The combined package for all of the laid-off executives includes $10 million in back pay and allowances and $17 million in severance pay. The severance packages were six times higher than the legal requirement. The executives were offered one month's salary for every year of service if they had been employed for more than three years, or a minimum of three months' salary for those who had worked less. The compensation packages ranged from $330,000 to $2.69 million. Those laid off comprised three directors, two deputy directors, five senior assistant directors, five assistant directors and nine senior managers. Democratic Party legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said the posts of the pair in question were not within the three divisions and therefore did not meet the criteria of the restructuring exercise. 'We're shocked to learn about this. We think the severance packages are unreasonable and unnecessary. It's a waste of public money,' Mr Chan said. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said lawmakers needed to find out the truth about the redundancies. 'If this is the case, I don't understand why they were given such a big amount of compensation. And the Public Accounts Committee may also have to look into it,' she said. The cases were revealed yesterday when a seven-member Legco special panel quizzed government and URA officials about the lay-offs. Mr Chan said URA managing director Canice Mak Chun-fong and Deputy Secretary for Planning and Lands Stephen Fisher had promised to give a detailed explanation about the case, including the directors' pay packages and their compensation levels, at another meeting next month. The officials also told lawmakers that they were considering individual written requests by 19 of those made redundant for redeployment. Seventeen had not collected their severance pay. But it was understood that their chances of being redeployed were slim. Even if they succeeded, they would only be offered a lower-ranking post. The officials also stressed the redundancies were 'solely due to restructuring'.