For discussion FCR(95-96)134
on 8 March 1996
ITEM FOR FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 106 - MISCELLANEOUS SERVICES
New Capital Account Subhead Grant to Beat Drugs Fund
Members are invited to approve the creation of a new Capital Account Subhead Grant to Beat Drugs Fund with a commitment of $350 million for establishing a Beat Drugs Fund.
We need to provide a steady and long-term source of additional funding to augment existing Government recurrent subventions to finance worthwhile anti-drug projects.
2. The Commissioner for Narcotics (C for N), with the support of the Secretary for Security (S for S), proposes to set up a Beat Drugs Fund (the Fund) to finance worthwhile projects which can help reduce the drug problem.
3. The problem of drug abuse has been a growing concern in recent years. Continuous and sustained efforts need to be made to counter the problem.
4. The Administration works in close co-operation with non-government organisations (NGOs) in combating the drug problem and has adopted a multi-faceted strategy which comprises five elements - law enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation, preventive education and publicity, research and international action.
5. Currently, we provide recurrent subventions each year under Head 176 Subventions: Miscellaneous Subhead 417 for the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) to organise community involvement projects aimed at preventing drug abuse and to conduct researches on the drug problem. These projects are organised either solely by the Narcotics Division of the Security Branch on behalf of ACAN or jointly with other agencies or Government departments. In 1994-95 and 1995-96, we allocated $2.34 million and $3.56 million respectively for the purpose. Because of the keen competition for funds, some applications to ACAN for financial support for worthwhile anti-drug projects by various agencies and organisations have not been successful.
6. C for N sees the need to augment the recurrent subvention under the ACAN vote to provide funds dedicated to anti-drug projects. He therefore proposes the setting up of the Fund of $350 million and using the income generated from the Fund to finance anti-drug projects which complement the multi-faceted strategy the Government and the NGOs have adopted.
7. The proposed allocation of $350 million is one-off. We have included sufficient provision in the draft Estimates for 1996-97. There are no additional staffing implications as the Fund will be managed by existing staff in the Narcotics Division of Security Branch.
8. The drug abuse problem among the young has been growing in recent years. Between 1990 and 1994, the number of drug abusers reported to the Central Registry of Drug Abuse rose by 33%, and the number of those aged under 21 increased by 255%, from 1 207 in 1990 to 4 288 in 1994. Although the number of young drug abusers reported in the first nine months of 1995 dropped by 7.3% from 3 520 in the corresponding period in 1994 to 3 262, drug abuse remains a matter for concern and we need to continue to combat the problem vigorously.
9. During Legislative Council debate on the 1995-96 draft Estimates last March, Members suggested that Government set up a fund to provide financial support to NGOs anti-drug efforts. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service and individual NGOs had made similar calls at both the Governors Summit on Drugs held on 6 March 1995 and on other occasions. The Action Plan drawn up by the Summit meeting and the Governors 1995 Policy Address included a proposal for the establishment of the Fund. At its meeting on 12 February 1996, the Legislative Council Panel on Security also indicated support for the proposal.
10. C for N will establish a non-profit making company incorporated under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 32) to hold the Fund. The Narcotics Division of the Security Branch, which is the secretariat servicing ACAN, will provide the necessary support for the administration and management of the Fund. The offices of S for S, C for N and Director of Accounting Services will be both members and directors of the company. In addition, the Government intends to appoint two non-officials knowledgeable in the anti-drug field to be the directors of the company. The Fund will make payments on a project basis and will invite ACANs advice before deciding on the allocations to worthwhile projects.
11. In line with the objective of providing a steady stream of funds for anti-drug work, C for N will keep the capital base of the Fund intact. In short, the amount of funds disbursed will not exceed the income generated.
Last Updated on 2 December 1998