Credit: Freepik

Czech Republic Is Not Sufficiently Prepared for Crisis or Emergency Situations, Says Audit Office

The Czech Republic is not sufficiently prepared for crises and emergency situations, the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) has warned in its annual report for 2023. The responsible institutions underestimated many events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and have not learned any lessons from them. 

According to the report, the state offices have sometimes just taken formal steps without substantial results. It is likely that these similar mistakes would be repeated at critical moments, which could lead to significant damage and waste of money, and endanger the health of the population.

Real changes that would improve preparedness for crises in practice are being made only minimally, the auditors said.

“A number of our audits, not only from last year, pointed out that we had witnessed mainly formal steps without substantial results,” the NKU annual report reads.

The office notes, among other things, that the system for protecting soft targets is still not complete, and the long-neglected state of protection of the population is a weak point.

When it comes to state defence capabilities, NKU found that the defence ministry had not been able to use the provided money effectively, despite the repeated increases in spending.

The auditors also found a risk of waste in the Defence Ministry’s recent practice of signing contracts for arms supplies directly with governments or manufacturers without tenders.

“Recently, the Ministry of Defence has been increasingly making financially significant acquisitions, concluding contracts without tenders directly with selected foreign governments, or with specific manufacturers. NKU sees a risk of inefficient and wasteful spending of financial means in this behaviour,” the report reads.

Last year, for example, the government decided to buy 24 US F-35s on the recommendation of the military. The Czech Republic will pay CZK 150 billion for the fighter jets, made by the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It is the Czech military’s most expensive purchase.

“In the light of the current security situation, it is necessary to put emphasis on strengthening the Czech Republic’s defence capabilities. However, this must be conditional on a meaningful and effective use of the limited resources available to the state,” write NKU.

The report notes that the spending of the Defence Ministry budget chapter has almost doubled in the past five years. At the same time, however, it warns that the increase in spending must correspond to the ministry’s ability to use the money efficiently and economically, which the previous audits did not prove, according to the office.

These included, for example, the acquisition of armaments and armoured vehicles.

Last year, NKU found that the army had not provided for the planned renewal of military automotive equipment or the army’s material needs in radiation, chemical and biological protection. The office said the average age of military vehicles was nearly 21 years, with some having been in service for 39 years. The ministry spent money inefficiently on repairs of vehicles with exceeded lifespan, in some cases paying more for repairs than the cost of a new vehicle, the office noted.

Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS) said last year that the age of cars in the army was the result of savings over the past decades.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail