Submitting of expensive gifts rare among most govt officials

Rafsan Jani
Published : 07:30, Jan 15, 2020 | Updated : 07:30, Jan 15, 2020

A general view of  the Toshakhana (State depository) Museum in DhakaThere is a rule to submit gifts above a certain price range at the treasury and this applies to all senior officials including prime minister, president, speaker, minister, deputy speaker, state minister and MPs. The rule also applies to general people if the gift is of historical value.
Surprisingly, while president and prime minister regularly submit high priced gifts at the treasury, the culture is non-existent among government MPs, minister and other officials.
Apart from the PM and the president, state minister for energy and resources, Nasrul Hamid was the last person to submit gifts to the treasury, which are currently being valued.
Nasrul Hamid, says: “We go abroad for tours and people from other countries also come and I submit my gifts as per rules to maintain transparency. Those who do not do this should be ashamed.”
Anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) feels that many officials do not submit valuable gifts to the treasury.
Executive director of TIB, Dr Iftekharuzzaman says: “There is a tendency to break the law among those who hold responsible posts. We must raise ourselves from this situation.”
Secretary of a good governance platform, Badiul Alam Mazumdar, says: “People in powerful posts often receive gifts and they take them to be their own. The rule to submit such expensive gifts is to ensure that people do not ask for favours by giving costly presents.”
Keeping such items to oneself make the products illegal assets; it’s clearly mentioned in chapter 20 clause 2 of the constitution, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
As per law, the gift limit is as follows: for PM and president Tk 50,000, Tk 30,000 for speaker, minister, deputy speaker and state ministers and for MPs plus all government officials, Tk 5,000.
Any gift which exceeds the stipulated limit will have to be informed to the cabinet, which will evaluate and preserve the item(s).
There are two sections of the treasury, one at Bangabhabans Manuk House which Bangabandhu started after independence.
A general view of  the Toshakhana (State depository) Museum in DhakaLater, current PM Sheikh Hasina took initiative to construct a separate treasury museum to house gifts for the people to see. This is near the military museum at Bijoy Sarani.
This was inaugurated by the PM on Nov 15, 2018.
The director of the museum, Monirul Islam Patwary, said: “We are appointing people and once there is enough manpower the museum will be opened to all.”
It’s found that while in power, HM Ershad got many gifts between 1983 till 1990 but did not submit them as per rules. In this regard, the ACC lodged a case against the former president in 1991 on which he was given three years imprisonment.
“The rule about submission of expensive gifts needs to be monitored. We do not know if this is being done or not but reality shows that enforcement of such a law is zero,” lamented Dr Ifterkharuzzaman.