Wednesday Feb 16, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Officials and public office holders of the ruling government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) paid a huge amount for gifts in terms of subsidised value from the Toshakhana in the fiscal year 2018-2019, according to official Cabinet Secretariat statistics from the past ten years, The News reported.
According to official records from the past decade, government officials deposited over 34 million rupees in the government treasury to maintain gifts in the years 2018 to 2019, the largest retention in the entire period.
Only during the fiscal year 2015-2016, when the PMLN was the ruling party, did any government official receive a gift. Presents up to the value of Rs30,000 rupees may be kept free of charge by the government official, according to the procedure for accepting and disposing of gifts.
Gifts worth more than Rs30,000, on the other hand, may be allowed to be kept by the receiver in exchange for payment of 50% of the value over the baseline exemption of Rs30,000. According to Pakistan's Toshakhana gift protocol, this exemption will not be granted in the case of antiquities and gifts of genuine historical value.
According to official figures, a total of Rs 3,322,050 was put in the government treasury in 2011-12 to cover the cost of the beneficiaries' retention of gifts. Similarly, during the financial years 2012-2013, a total of Rs1.856 million was placed in the government treasury as retention cost of gifts.
According to the data, a total of Rs13 million was deposited against an auction of Toshakhana presents in the financial year 2013-2014, and a total of Rs1.989 million was deposited towards the retention cost of gifts stated by government employees. According to the data, 149 new items were added to Toshakhana in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, and an amount of Rupees 3.2 million was deposited in the government treasury as retention cost of gifts stated by recipients.
No gift was kept by any government official in the fiscal year 2015-2016, as no information for gift retention is included in the Cabinet Division's official year book for that year.
Government officials submitted an amount of Rs3.7 million each year in the fiscal years 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018. During the fiscal year 2018-2019, government officials deposited highest amount in order to keep gifts from other countries. Over 34 million rupees were put in the government treasury this year alone by officials who kept the gifts for that year.
In the fiscal year 2019-2020, the government exchequer received rupees 6.4 million as a retention cost of 25 gifts recorded by officials. The federal government has declined to release information about gifts presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan by foreign heads of state, claiming that doing so would jeopardise the country's national interest and relations with neighbouring countries.
This came about when the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) requested information from the PTI-led federal government in response to a citizen's request. The federal government, on the other hand, filed a lawsuit in the Islamabad High Court, claiming that the specifics of the gifts received by the prime minister were classified.
In their annual public reports, countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and others disclose all earnings, payments, gifts, benefits, properties, lands, and overseas travels of all officials, including the prime ministers, and nothing is kept concealed.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filed a referral with the Accountability Court in 2020, accusing Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Yousaf Raza Gilani of violating Toshakhana (state gift repository) norms, which it claimed resulted in a significant loss to the national exchequer.
According to the NAB, Yusaf Raza Gilani permitted the accused to keep luxury automobiles given to them by foreign dignitaries by loosening the norms governing their use in order to provide them with an illicit benefit.
In the Toshakhana reference, the Accountability Court in Islamabad ordered the sale of seized assets of former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in 2021. After auctioning Nawaz Sharif's properties, the court also directed the competent authorities to deposit the earnings in the national exchequer. The court also ordered that Nawaz Sharif's vehicles be auctioned within 30 days.