Former PM ManMohan Singh retains 101 gifts while demitting office
In a reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Ministry of External Affairs has informed that while demitting the office, the former Prime Minister ManMohan Singh chose to take with him 101 of the numerous gifts received from ‘foreign sources’ during his tenure. The gifts retained by him include:
· 11 carpets,
· 10 paintings,
· five tea sets, including a 22-piece Noritake one,
· a Bose sound system,
· a gold-plated Piaget ladies wrist watch, and
· an ornamental silver elephant embedded with semi-precious stones.
As per the Foreign Contribution (Acceptance or Retention of Gifts or Presentation) Rules 2012, Singh in entitled to keep gifts upto a value of Rs. 5000/- and if the evaluated cost of a gift is above the limit, he has to pay the difference if he wants to keep it. According to the information provided, only seven gift items retained by Singh have been assessed at more than Rs. 5000/-. The assessed value of some of the gifts kept by him has invited criticism.
· The gold-plated Piaget watch has been assessed by the government at Rs. 35,000 while the company website cites the price of Rs. 4 lakh-plus for a similar watch. Critics have pointed that there is hardly anything on the Piaget website which is less than Rs.1.5 lakh.
· The assessed value of the Bose Wave music system is Rs. 20,000/- while the cheapest Bose Wave music system in India costs Rs. 39,000.
· While a 17-piece set costs over Rs. 20,000/- online, the Noritake 22-piece tea set retained by Singh has been assessed at Rs. 5,500/-.