Order of 13 March 2023 No. 3425 “On Defining the Price of the Gifts that Civil Servants Can Receive in Relation to Business Trips, International and Other Official Events” (Ўзбекистон Республикаси Коррупцияга қарши курашиш агентлиги директорининг буйруғи Давлат фуқаролик хизматчиси томонидан хизмат сафарлари, халқаро ва бошқа расмий тадбирлар муносабати билан олиниши мумкин бўлган совға қиймати, шунингдек уни тасарруф этиш тартиби тўғрисидаги низомни тасдиқлаш ҳақида) was adopted by the Anti-Corruption Agency in accordance with article 18 of Law of 8 August 2022 No. ZRU-788 “On Civil Service” (Ўзбекистон Республикасининг қонуни давлат фуқаролик хизмати тўғрисида) that has been recently updated.
Under the Law, civil servants and their family members are forbidden to accept gifts – property having material value and services provided free of charge to natural and/or legal persons – in exchange for the performance or non-performance of their official duties in the interest of gift-givers.
The prohibition rules have the following exceptions allowing for the acceptance of gifts:
- during business trips abroad and in relation to other official events, including those held in the domestic territory;
- for special merits based on the decision of a public body;
- as a reward in competitions and contests;
- in relation to national holidays, memorable dates and other official events.
The Order clarifies the requirements to the gifts that are allowed and received in relation to international and other official events*.
The act states that these gifts:
- should not violate the law, including the Order, and the provisions of internal regulations of the public body where the servant holds a position;
- should be given by the gift-giver voluntarily;
- should be accepted by the civil servant in an open and transparent manner;
- should not damage the reputation (image) of the public body;
- should not generate conflict-of-interest situations and bear other corruption risks, in particular, create obligations affecting impartial decision-making by the servant in the framework of his/her duties.
If the servant has doubts that the gift-giver has no intention to influence him/her by giving him/her the gift, he/she should refuse it and notify immediately the anti-corruption division of the public body where he/she holds a position about it.
The Order also establishes the requirements to the admissible value of gifts:
- if the value of the gift accepted on the occasion of international and other official events exceeds four base calculating amounts (980,000 UZS or roughly 86 USD), it is considered as property of the public body where the servant holds a position and should be consigned to the body to be put on balance. The Order does not provide servants with the possibility to buy gifts back, contrary to the practice established, for instance, by the Russian law;
- if the value of the gift is less than or equal to four base calculating amounts, the gift is returned to the servant.
In the event that the civil servant does not have the documents certifying the value of the gift, its value is determined by the public body. To this end, the relevant division searches for the information on the market price of the gift in shops, on the Internet and with the assistance of other sources and methods, defines its average value and prepares a final report.
Long-term storage products (flowers, confectionaries) and stationery (calendars, booklets, plastic pens, diaries and notebooks) are not considered as gifts under the Order and can be used by servants at their own discretion.
Additionally, the act stresses that civil servants can accept invitations to breakfasts, coffee-breaks, lunches, dinners and cultural and entertainment events with due regard to ethics rules as a sign of hospitality made in relation to international or other official events with a view to strengthening bilateral relations.
The Order also specifies that public bodies should adopt local acts to clarify the conditions for consigning gifts that should define:
- the procedure for determining the value of gifts and their placement on balance of the public body;
- storage rules, including the maintenance of a gifts register;
- principles of monitoring and coordination of actions related to the acceptance of gifts by servants.
*According to the Order, an international event is an event organised and held on behalf of a public body with the participation of its official representatives and representatives of foreign countries and international organisations with the aim to establish cooperation, develop contacts, exchange experience, particularly those related to visits of a delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan to a foreign country and visits of a foreign delegation to events in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
An official event is an event aimed at achieving certain objectives and organised on behalf of a public body in accordance with its mission and functions with the participation of its official representatives (official receipts, ceremonies, meetings, conferences, workshops, briefings, symposia, presentations, round tables etc.).