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Gov't to spend NT$10 billion fighting narcotics over next 4 years
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Taipei, May 11 (CNA) Premier Lin Chuan said on Thursday that the government plans to adopt a more human-centric strategy to fight the spread of narcotics and is planning to spend NT$10 billion (US$331.3 million) on such efforts over the next four years.

The planned spending marks a significant increase from the current level of NT$1.2 billion per year, Lin said at a press conference held after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

He said about 60,000 people in Taiwan were arrested for involvement in drug-related cases last year, with 27,000 of those sent to jail.

While anti-narcotics efforts in the country have mainly focused on drug seizures, the government plans to develop a more human-centric strategy in an effort to focus more on addiction prevention and drug controls in the future, he said.

In addition to establishing a database that integrates information held by prosecutors, police and investigators to make it easier to identify the sources of narcotics, the government will also provide more assistance to help drug users kick their addiction and find employment, with the dual goal of attacking the supply of narcotics and reducing demand, he said.

To impact narcotics supply, the government will purchase equipment that can test and confirm narcotic substances more rapidly, use big data to trace sources of narcotics and develop a joint regional mechanism on drug investigation and seizure, he said.

Other measures will include setting up a narcotics reporting system at village, borough and neighborhood levels, establishing a narcotics reporting system and investigation mechanism in the military, and enhancing the ability of customs and Coast Guard personnel to seize drugs at the border, he said.

On steps to reduce the number of drug users, the government will encourage schools to take the initiative in identifying potential drug users, align schools with police to set up patrols in narcotics hot spots and provide individual guidance and follow-up with drug-using students, he said.

In addition, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will set up integrated drug and substance abuse treatment centers in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan, expand the number of therapy communities and increase subsidies for half-way homes, according to the premier.

Meanwhile, the executive and legislative branches will also work together to amend related laws to increase the penalty for drug dealers who sell narcotics to minors or pregnant women and those who make, transport or sell mixed drugs, he added.