Rules: New rules on gifts that will repeal the Gift Rules 2009 is expected to come in to effect soon.

According to the Gift Rules 2016, a public servant must disclose any gift received from any source within 24 hours after receiving the gift or upon arrival at his or her work place.

Such information includes the name and position of the recipient public servant, an estimated fair market value and a brief description of the gift. The rules defines a gift as anything of economic value for which no consideration is expected or given in return at any point of time.

An agency concerned may provide access to a particular disclosure within five working days from the day of the receipt of such an application. Any rejection of an application must require the agency concerned to provide the grounds for the rejection to the applicant.

According to the rules, gift disclosures in the agencies shall be subjected to compliance auditing by the Royal Audit Authority. And each agency should maintain a record of the gift received for a period of five years.

These rules will come into force with effect from such date as announced by the Anti-Corruption Commission by an order.

The rules also prohibit an “indirect solicitation” of gifts. An indirect solicitation or acceptance of a gift includes any item solicited or accepted by a public servant’s spouse or dependent with the public servant’s knowledge and acquiescence because of the giver’s relationship to that public servant.

A prohibited source means any person who seeks official action or business from the public servant’s agency. She or he can be someone who does business or seeks to do so.

The rules prohibit a prohibited source, from either directly or indirectly, giving a gift to any public servant including his or her spouse and or dependent.

Exceptions to the rules have also been laid. A public servant may, however, accept a gift from an immediate relative when the circumstances make it clear that it is the relationship rather than the position of the public servant concerned which is the motivating factor.

A gift can be accepted from an individual solely on the basis of a personal relationship when the circumstances make it clear that it is that personal relationship rather than the official position of the person concerned which is the motivating factor.

The rules also allow gifts to or from between public servants. A public servant may give or accept a gift to or from another public servant where a nominal amount for a gift to another public servant on a special infrequent occasions of personal significance such as marriage, illness, birth of a child, or death.

A nominal amount for a gift on occasions such as retirement, resignation or transfer, personal hospitality subject to it being modest, reasonable and customary to the occasion is also allowed.

A public servant may accept a gift from any source other than a prohibited source, on behalf of his or her agency subject to it being declared and deposited with the agency.

MB Subba