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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Wednesday explained what it called the “misreporting” about Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Toshakhana record and insisted that some of the gifts with assessed value less than Rs30,000 were returned to him “in accordance with the laid down procedures.”

“The Foreign Minister did not retain any gift and deposited all in Toshakhana of the Cabinet Division, in full compliance of the government’s policy,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said while terming media reports in this regard as “misreporting”.

However, the spokesperson added that some gifts that were assessed by the Cabinet Division to be of value less than Rs30,000 were returned to him in accordance with the laid down procedures.

As per the Toshakhana record, which was recently made public, Foreign Minister Bilawal on June 7, 2022, received gifts with a total assessed value of Rs7,235,840 and deposited all of them in Toshakhana which included one box containing Rolex Sr.No.M116681- 0002 (without warranty card) [assessed value as Rs7,200,840], one bottle of fragrance of Taif Rose Bride Rate [assessed value Rs22,000], and one box containing food (dates, olive oil, honey, rose water and Arabic kehwa) [assessed value Rs13,000].

On June 8, 2022, the foreign minister received one box containing Eschembach club 10x25 binocular, the final status of which as per the record is “in process”.

According to the Toshakhana record, Foreign Minister Bilawal received on June 17, 2022, an Arabic kehwa with three cups with an assessed value of Rs26,000 which he retained as free of cost. On July 4, the foreign minister received one box containing white porcelain vase with a butterfly orchid pattern with an assessed value of Rs22,000, which he retained free of cost.

On July 5, 2022, Bilawal also received one vase (Persian) (White and Blue) (large) assessed value of Rs22,000 and one vase (Blue) (Persian) (small) assessed value of Rs22,000 and retention cost as Rs7,000 of the total Rs44,000 assessed value of the two gifts. The final status of these gifts is also “in process”.

On July 15, 2022, the foreign minister received one W/watch Rolex (M126333-0017) (No.327AJ791) with a total assessed value as Rs3,750,000 and he deposited in Toshakhana.

On August 10, 2022, Bilawal received one vase (Blue and White colour) with a total assessed value as Rs22,000 which he retained free of cost.

He also deposited in Toshakhana a tea set (five pieces) which he received on October 12, 2022, with an assessed value of Rs285,000.

Besides, he also deposited in Toshakhana one Mont Blanc Brief Case assessed value of Rs160,000; One Mont Blanc Pen assessed value of Rs250,000; and One Mont Blanc Note Book, assessed value of Rs24,000.

The final status of some other gifts, the foreign minister had received, is also “in process” which included one Ceramic Glayz received on January 25, 2023; One W/Watch Rolex, received on January 25, 2023, and an Uzbek handmade wooden chess, received on January 25, 2023.

On October 23, 2013, Bilawal as son of ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, retained one (underglaze Blue and White) vase with gold painted free of cost and the assessed value of which was Rs6,500.

The October 25, 2011 “monetary limits as per procedure for the acceptance of gifts and their disposal” stipulates that the monetary limits upto which the gifts can be retained by the recipients are - (i) Gifts upto a value of Rs10,000 may be retained free of cost by the recipient subject to the provision of these rules.

(ii) Gifts valued above Rs10,000 may be allowed to be retained by the recipient on payment of 20 percent of the value exceeding the basic exemption of Rs10,000.

(iii) Gifts valued at Rs1.0 million or more shall not be retained by the recipient, except the President and the Head of the Government.

However, the recipient of gift comprising distinct articles but gifted in a single transaction having collective value of Rs1.0 million or more shall have an option to retain any article(s) upto the collective value of less than Rs1.0 million only subject to the condition that part of an article will not be allowed to be taken.

This exemption shall however not be available in case of antiques and gifts of intrinsic historical value.

(iv) Different gift articles given by a single dignitary to a functionary at one occasion will be treated as single gift for the purpose of valuation.

(v) The maximum monetary limit to be allowed for retention of gifts in one calendar year for any functionary other than the President or the Prime Minister should not exceed Rupees 2.5 million.

However, the gifts having value in excess of the limit of rupees 2.5 million can be retained by the recipient on payment of 65 per cent of the assessed value of the gifts.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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Maqbool Mar 16, 2023 03:54pm
Will someone tell us the people what gifts and of what value given in return to Foreign dignitaries ?
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