Toshakhana gifts ‘must be on public display’

Federal cabinet okays rules for appointing members of tax appellate tribunals

Our Correspondent May 15, 2024
The Toshakhana is a repository which stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and other officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. PHOTO: FILE


The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave the nod to amendments to the Toshakhana (gift repository) laws under which the items received from foreign dignitaries by local recipients would be displayed at public places, according to a statement issued by the PM’s Office.

The cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, also approved the Appellate Tribunals Inland Revenue (Conditions of Service) Rules 2024 under which its members would be appointed. The statement added that the main purpose of the appellate tribunals was to dispose of pending cases related to tax matters.

Under the changes in the Toshakhana laws, shields, souvenirs and other similar gifts will not be held by the recipients.

Instead, they will be displayed at a prominent place within the premises of the recipients’ institution or organisation. Besides, a record will also be maintained in this connection.

Similarly, if the gift is a book, the recipient will not keep it with themselves and it will be displayed in their offices or in public libraries while a catalogue will also be maintained.

Gifts deemed prohibited under the local laws will be wasted under the presence of a committee formed by the Cabinet Division.

In another change, it was decided that the honorarium for an expert from the private sector for evaluating the Toshakhana gifts would be increased.

Read Imran, wife get reprieve in gifts case

During the previous government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the then federal cabinet had approved the Toshakhana Policy, 2023 which imposed restrictions on the president, prime minister, cabinet members and government officials from receiving gifts valued at more than $300.

However, as per the policy, a public officer-holder can obtain a gift below the value of $300 after making its due payment under the relevant mechanism.

The participants of the huddle accorded their approval to the Conditions of Service Rules, 2024 on the recommendations of the law and justice ministry.

They also ratified the decisions of May 7 made by the Cabinet Committee for Legislative Cases.
The cabinet further ordered the formation of a special committee to hold consultations over the amendments to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.

This body, headed by Adviser to PM on Political Affairs Rana Sanaullah, will comprise of representatives from the coalition parties.

On the recommendation of the law and justice ministry, the cabinet also gave the nod to an amendment to Section 3 (1) of the laws related to the appointment of the investment ombudsman.

The change makes it mandatory for the person holding the post of the investment ombudsman to have a degree in commerce, finance and the related sector.

The federal cabinet ratified the decisions made by its Economic Coordination Committee on May 7 during its meeting.

On the recommendation of the National Health Ministry, it further gave an exemption from tax and duty to one million bottles of multi-micro nutrients for pregnant women, donated by US humanitarian organisations.

Gwadar port

Chairing a separate meeting on the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Beijing’s investment, PM Shehbaz ordered the authorities concerned to ensure the routing a proportion of the country’s imports, particularly those related to the government, through Gwadar port.

According to a statement, the prime minister made the decision with the aim of making Gwadar port fully operational.

The premier instructed all the ministries to enhance collaboration among them for the swift execution of the CPEC’s second phase.

He warned against any slackness by the ministries and government departments.

PM Shehbaz also ordered the provision of foolproof security to the Chinese workers in the country.

He told the participants of the meeting that the Pakistan-China partnership was at its highest-ever level, so the relevant officers and departments should strive for positive outcomes of this relationship.

(With input from APP)


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