ISLAMABAD: Officials and public office holders of the incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf paid the highest amount for gifts in terms of subsidized value from the Toshakhana in the fiscal year 2018-2019, Cabinet Secretariat's official data of the past 10 years reveals.
The official record from the past decade shows that the government officials deposited over 34 million rupees in government treasury in the year 2018 to 2019 for retaining the gifts, which is the highest retention in this whole period.
Over these years, only in the fiscal year 2015-2016, when the PMLN was the ruling party, no gift was retained by any government official. As per the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts, gifts up to the value of Rs30,000 rupees may be retained free of cost by the government representative.
Whereas, gifts valued above Rs30,000 may be allowed to be retained by the recipient on payment of 50pc of the value exceeding the basic exemption of Rs30,000. This exemption, however, will not be available in case of antiques and gifts of intrinsic historical value, according to the Toshakhana gift procedure of Pakistan.
The official data reveals that during the year 2011-12, a sum of rupees 3,322,050 were deposited to the government treasury towards the retention cost of gifts by the recipients. Likewise, the total sum of Rs1.856 million was deposited in the government treasury as retention cost of gifts during the financial years 2012-2013.
In the financial year 2013-2014, the total amount of Rs13 million was deposited against an auction of Toshakhana gifts and a sum of Rs1.989 million was deposited towards the retention cost of gifts declared by the government officials, discloses the data.
The data further reflects that in the year 2014-2015, 149 new items were added in Toshakhana and an amount of Rupees 3.2 million was deposited in the government treasury as retention cost of gifts declared by the recipients.
No gift was retained by any government official in the financial year of 2015-2016 as no detail regarding retention of gifts is disclosed for this year in the official year book of the Cabinet Division.
Whereas, in the fiscal year 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018, the government officials submitted an amount of Rs3.7 million each year. In the fiscal year 2018-2019, the government officials deposited the highest amount for retaining gifts received from foreign countries. In this year alone, over 34 million rupees were deposited in the government treasury by officials who retained the gifts in that specific year.
In the year 2019-2020, rupees 6.4 million were submitted in the government exchequer as retention cost of 25 gifts declared by the officials. The federal government had lately refused to make public details of gifts given to Prime Minister Imran Khan by foreign heads of states, asserting that the disclosure can damage the country’s national interest and its relations with other states.
This development arose when the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) sought details from the PTI-led federal government in response to an application from a citizen. However, the federal government challenged the matter in Islamabad High Court (IHC), arguing that details of the gifts received by the prime minister have been designated as classified.
Countries like the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and others declare all earnings, payments, gifts, benefits, properties, lands and foreign travellings of all the officials mentioning their names, including the premiers in its yearly public report and nothing is kept hidden.
In 2020, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed a reference with the Accountability Court against Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Yousaf Raza Gilani on the alleged violation of rules of Toshakhana (state gift repository), which it argued had caused a heavy loss to the national exchequer.
The NAB alleged that Yusaf Raza Gilani, in order to extend illegal benefit to the accused, allowed them to keep luxury vehicles gifted to them by foreign dignitaries by relaxing the procedures governing their use.
In 2021, the Accountability Court, Islamabad, ordered auction of seized properties of former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana reference. The court also ordered the relevant authorities to submit the proceeds in the national exchequer after auctioning the properties of Nawaz Sharif. The court also ordered the auctioning of Nawaz Sharif’s vehicles within 30 days.
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