Precursor Control Authority:
Era free of illicit drug trafficking
In general terms, Precursor chemicals are defined as the compounds
required in synthetic or extraction processes of drug production, and
incorporated into drug molecules. Because many legitimate precursor
chemicals are also necessary in the processing and synthesis of most
illicitly produced drugs such as cocaine and heroin, preventing the
diversion of these chemicals from legitimate commerce to illicit drug
manufacturing is identified as a major duty of any responsible
Often the governments place restrictions on the purchase of large
quantities of chemicals that can be used in the production of illicit
drugs. Since numerous chemicals listed as illicit drug precursors are
manufactured throughout the globe, international cooperation in
conjunction with a comprehensive chemical control strategy is essential
for chemical control policies to succeed.
Heroin smuggling, a global problem. Picture courtesy: Google
In compliance with the United Nations Convention and the South Asian
Association for Regional Co-operation Convention against illicit traffic
in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, arrangements have been
made under the Section 18 of the Act No 01 of 2008 enacted by the
Parliament of the democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, to
establish the Precursor Control Authority as a subsidiary of the
National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, in order to implement a
mechanism to monitor the import and export of the aforesaid chemicals.
Drug control activities
The Precursor Control Authority affiliated to the National Dangerous
Drugs Control Board, (NDDCB) officially initiated its duties on January
3, 2011. Being a subsidiary of the National Dangerous Drugs Control
Board, which is designated as the focal point for drug control
activities in Sri Lanka, the authority joins forces with it by a
accomplishing several tasks related to the control of illicit traffic in
narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
In keeping with the mission of the NDDCB, some of the major duties
carried out by the Authority include issuing licences for the
importers/exporters, dealers and end users of precursor chemicals,
issuing licences for the storage premises of precursor chemicals and
holding periodical awareness programs for the relevant parties.
The Chairman of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board officially
holds and chair of this Authority which comprises 17 members appointed
as such encompassing a variety of different fields under “the
establishment of Precursor Control Authority Regulations, No 1 of 2010.”
In addition the Precursor Control Authority is accountable for and
functions under the supervision of the National Dangerous Drugs Control
Board which is designated as the national focal point for the
coordination of all drug control activities in Sri Lanka.
Objective behind establishment of Precursor Control Authority
In the Sri Lankan context, Precursor chemicals are widely used in the
manufacture of a variety of daily necessities such as chemicals, paints,
dyes, perfumes, cosmetics, medicine and explosives apart from their
utilization in the manufacturing process of industry based products such
as plastic, rubber and even in agriculture.
It has been identified that these precursor chemicals which make an
immense contribution towards the economic development is being utilized
illegitimately for the production of illicit drugs and this trend
appears to be developing at an alarming rate throughout the country and
the world as well. Consequently the present government has taken
measures to establish an Authority of this sort with the intention of
preventing and restricting such illicit activities.
Duties of Precursor Control Authority
The duties of the Authority are cited in the section 19 of the Act No
1 of 2008 and are primarily as follows:
(i) Monitoring to ensure proper transport, distribution, storage,
safeguarding and usage of aforementioned chemicals and supervision of
the premises where such activities are carried out.
(ii) Registration and issue of licenses for the
individuals/institutions and premises where foregoing activities are
carried out under proper supervision.
In addition to accomplishing the aforementioned duties, the Authority
is intending to carry out the following functions in the near future.
* Analysis of samples of imported chemicals obtained at the point of
* Analysis of samples obtained at the visits.
* Inspection of storage facilities for the imported chemicals and for
the substances manufactured from the Precursor Chemicals.
* Monitoring the synthetic or extraction processes of substances
manufactured from the Precursor Chemicals.
* Inspection of the equipment used in the manufacturing process.
* Visiting the premises of the importers and exporters in order to
verify that the substances specified in table 1 and table 2 of the first
scheduled to the Act, are used only for the legal purposes.
* Analysis of final products and by products for their composition.
* Inspection of the books, documents or other records which contain
information about the names/types of chemicals imported or exported,
purpose of using those chemicals quantities of chemicals
imported/exported/issued from the stocks for manufacturing
process/surplus of chemicals/surplus of final products/Returns, etc.
* Obtaining information on input/output ratio (i.e. percentage yield)
* Obtaining information on possible losses/wastages of chemicals and
measures taken to prevent or minimize those losses.
* Obtaining information on disposal of by-products and measures
adopted to prevent potential hazards caused by chemicals.
* Ascertaining the accuracy of the information provided in the second
part of the applications and quarterly returns.
* Refer the samples sent by other Law Enforcement Agencies for
analysis and submitting the reports.
The writer is the Chairperson - Precursor Control Authority
To be continued