Pakistan Strengthens Oversight of Foreign Gifts and Donations

Pakistan Strengthens Oversight of Foreign Gifts and Donations

Karachi, Pakistan – July 7, 2024 – The Pakistan government has implemented stricter regulations governing the receipt of foreign gifts and donations by public officials and organizations.

This move, introduced through the Finance Act, 2024, amends the Customs Act, 1969, and aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the handling of foreign aid received in Pakistan.

Focus on Transparency and Due Process

The amended act establishes a multi-layered approval process for receiving foreign gifts and donations in Pakistan. Here’s a breakdown of the key provisions:

• Prior Approval Required: All gifts and donations originating from foreign governments or organizations, intended for the federal or provincial governments or any public sector entity, now require prior approval.

• Multi-Step Approval Process: Acquiring approval involves a two-step process. First, the relevant ministry must recommend the acceptance of the gift or donation. Subsequently, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) must provide its concurrence.

• Verification and Purpose Restriction: The concerned ministry shoulders the responsibility of verifying the legitimacy of each case. Additionally, they must furnish a written undertaking guaranteeing that the donated goods will be used exclusively for the designated purpose and will not be sold, utilized, or disposed of in any other manner.

Expected Benefits

The implementation of these stricter regulations is anticipated to yield several benefits:

• Reduced Risk of Misuse: The mandatory approval process acts as a safeguard against the potential misuse of foreign aid. By requiring justification and oversight, the system aims to ensure that donations are directed towards their intended beneficiaries.

• Enhanced Transparency: The requirement for ministries to verify the legitimacy of each case promotes greater transparency in the handling of foreign aid. This can help to address concerns about the potential for corruption or misuse of resources.

• Improved Accountability: The written undertaking from ministries fosters accountability by holding them responsible for the proper utilization of donated goods. This can help to build public trust in the government’s handling of foreign assistance.

Potential Impact on Foreign Aid Landscape

The new regulations may introduce additional administrative hurdles for some organizations seeking to provide assistance to Pakistan. However, the long-term benefits of increased transparency and accountability are likely to outweigh these initial challenges. Streamlining the approval process while upholding the core principles of the amendment could be a focus for future refinements.

Overall, Pakistan’s move to tighten oversight of foreign gifts and donations signifies a commitment to responsible management of external assistance. The stricter regulations aim to ensure that such aid is used effectively and ethically, ultimately contributing to the country’s development goals.