THE country is incapable of dealing effectively with its escalating drugs and substance abuse problems, a narcotic expert says.
Former executive director of the PNG National Narcotics Bureau Felix Handa’an Oltomo said the government lacked a national drug control strategy to coordinate its efforts and resources. He said the absence of a national drug legislation meant that the country was unable to address the developing trends of drug trafficking and associated trans-national crimes.
This included monitoring the consignments of manufactured drugs for medicinal purposes coming into the country. He said the PNG National Narcotics Bureau was a “total fiasco”. “Since early 2000, this agency had gobbled up millions of kina in taxpayers funds with nothing to show for,” he said. He said a rapid situation assessment report of drug abuse published in 1998 by an international consultant was the only tangible achievement of the bureau.
He said the report showed that drug abuse and trafficking were major problems in the country. It made 21 recommendations including the need for a comprehensive national drug strategy, a new master plan to be drawn up and the updating of existing drug legislation.
“Unfortunately, there has been no follow-up action on the recommendations. That was primarily due to a seemingly unending battle for the top post of the agency,” he said.
The late Fr William Liebert was the last appointed director-general of the Bureau in 1999.