Govt sees eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as key to drugs war

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­

RE­GIONAL de­vel­op­ment and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties in eth­nic ar­eas is the lat­est strat­egy de­vised by Maj Gen Aung Thu, deputy min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, to put an end to the na­tion’s nar­cotics men­ace.

The plan was re­vealed in an­swer to a ques­tion by MP U Tun Tun Oo at the Amyotha Hlut­taw ses­sion on Septem­ber 12 about ef­forts to halt the spread of cheap drugs in the coun­try.

“We’ll con­tinue to pre­vent and crack down on drugs in eth­nic re­gions while keep­ing in mind the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and peace process,” said Maj Gen Aung Thu.

He added there is a need to re­view the strengths and weak­nesses of drug pre­ven­tion teams at the re­gional and lo­cal lev­els.

An anti-drug re­port­ing cen­tre, or­dered by Pres­i­dent U Win Myint, opened on June 26 to fight the coun­try’s drug prob­lem by re­ward­ing in­for­mants with tax ex­emp­tions.

Ten-mem­ber spe­cial anti-drug task forces that have been formed in re­gions and states, in­clud­ing Nay Pyi Taw, have cracked down on il­licit drugs in co­op­er­a­tion with gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and civil so­ci­ety groups, said the deputy min­is­ter.

From 2016 through July 2018, more than 4.36 mil­lion kilo­grams of opium, 202,084kgs of heroin, more than 231 mil­lion am­phet­a­mine tablets, and other il­licit drugs were seized in more than 24,000 cases. The value of the nar­cotics amounted to one per­cent of Myanmar’s 2017 GDP.

Myanmar Po­lice, work­ing with lo­cal mil­i­tary, have raided 193 drug fac­to­ries since 1991, a small num­ber con­sid­er­ing that Myanmar is the world’s sec­ond-big­gest opium pro­ducer.

“We plan 10 task forces, in­clud­ing an in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions team and con­trolled chem­i­cals su­per­vi­sory team,” he said.

Drug erad­i­ca­tion mea­sures and drug abuse aware­ness cam­paigns have been con­ducted across the na­tion, he said.

The gov­ern­ment is com­bat­ing nar­cotics with an ob­jec­tive of se­cur­ing the liveli­hoods of opium farm­ers and in­dige­nous peo­ple liv­ing in moun­tain­ous re­gions, and re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing drug users. The drug erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme is be­ing car­ried out in four phases, each tak­ing five years, with the first phase to be com­pleted next year.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

A man walks past drugs be­ing burned by law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in Hlaing Thar­yar town­ship in Yan­gon in June.

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