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Bill presented in Senate to manage and regulate Toshakhana gifts

Proposed legislation set to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of gifts received by public officials.

Islamabad, 25th July, 2023 (GNP): A groundbreaking bill was presented in the Senate today, aiming to regulate and manage gifts received by public officials. The proposed Toshakhana (Management and Regulation) Act, 2023 introduces a stringent fine of five times the market value of a gift on failure to deposit the item within the stipulated time.

The Toshakhana is a repository under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores valuable gifts presented to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by international heads of state and other dignitaries. The proposed law seeks to instill greater transparency and responsibility in managing these high-value items.

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Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi from the ruling PML-N party presented the proposed legislation, emphasizing its relevance in the current political climate. The draft law outlines a comprehensive list of officials required to deposit gifts in the Toshakhana, extending to spouses and children of public office holders.

As per the proposed bill, a gift is defined as a non-perishable item given by a local or foreign dignitary or company, other than cash tips given to officers of BPS-1 to BPS-14. In Section 3, it is stated that public officials or members of official delegations who receive such gifts are required to deposit them in the Toshakhana within a time limit prescribed by the Act’s rules.

Failure to comply with this provision will result in a fine amounting to five times the market value of the gift, as assessed by the relevant authorities, the bill added.

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Moreover, it suggested that the division responsible for the Act will ensure Toshakhana’s management and regulation and take the necessary measures in the prescribed manner.

Furthermore, the bill proposes that information regarding the Toshakhana will be made available for inspection, subject to conditions, limitations, and restrictions as outlined in it.

Once approved by the relevant committee in the Senate, the Toshakhana (Management and Regulation) Act, 2023 will be taken up by the upper House of Parliament for further consideration.