Gift row: External Affairs Ministry not to blame, but 'systemic flaws' exist

"Systematic flaws" have been found in procurement of gift items by External Affairs Ministry for foreign dignitaries, the government told Rajya Sabha today.

"The conclusions of the inquiries conducted into the matter by the Ministry and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not find any involvement or complicity of officials of the Ministry.

"These inquiries, however, disclosed systematic flaws in the procurement of gift items. The concerned officials of the Ministry have been advised to scrupulously follow prescribed procedures in this regard in future," Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said in a written reply.

The inquiries were initiated amid reports that gifts for foreign dignitaries were allegedly bought by the MEA at inflated costs and by circumventing rules last year.

Ahamed said the inquiries pointed to a need for systematic improvements by way of framing of appropriate rules or guidelines in the procurement of gifts by the Ministry.

"All procedures involved in the purchase and procurement of gifts have since been reviewed to ensure that gifts are sourced exclusively from State Emporia as per approved policy of the MEA.

"Norms and guidelines relating to presentation of gifts have been reviewed, updated and re-circulated to all concerned. New measures have also been instituted to improve existing procedures involved in the presentation of gifts," the Minister said.

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