The Czech Republic has not learned its lesson. It is not sufficiently prepared for crises and emergencies, the SAO found

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The Czech Republic is not sufficiently prepared for crises and extraordinary events, warns the Supreme Audit Office (NAO) in its annual report for last year. According to him, the responsible institutions underestimated many events, such as the covid-19 pandemic, and did not learn enough from them. Sometimes they just took formal steps without substantial results. It is likely that the state will repeat similar mistakes at critical moments, which can lead to significant damage, waste of money and endanger the health of residents, the SAO said.

According to the controllers, real changes that would improve preparedness for crises in practice are minimal. “A number of our inspections, not only from last year, pointed out that we witnessed primarily only formal steps without significant results,” the annual report states. Among other things, the Office notes that the system for the protection of soft targets is still not complete, and the long-term neglected state of population protection is also a weak point.

The SAO concluded last year that the population protection system in the Czech Republic has fundamental shortcomings. According to the inspectors, people are not sufficiently informed, masks and permanent shelters are missing, with which only 3.2 percent of the population is protected. At the time, however, the Ministry of the Interior described the conclusions of the inspection as tendentious. According to the interior of the EU, the population protection system in the Czech Republic is, on the contrary, considered one of the most robust and best prepared.

Regarding the state’s defense capabilities, the SAO found that the Ministry of Defense was not able to effectively use the money provided, despite its expenses repeatedly increasing. The office also sees a risk in the way the ministry has recently concluded contracts for the supply of weapons.

“Recently, the Ministry of Defense has been carrying out financially significant acquisitions more and more often, when it concludes contracts without competition directly with selected foreign governments or with specific manufacturers. In this negotiation, the SAO sees the risk of inefficient and wasteful spending of funds,” the report states. Last year, for example, the government decided to buy 24 American F-35 aircraft based on the army’s recommendation. The Czech side will pay 150 billion crowns for the fighters of the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It is the most expensive Czech army purchase.

“In the light of the current security situation, it is necessary to emphasize the strengthening of the defense capabilities of the Czech Republic. However, this must be conditional on the meaningful and effective use of the limited resources available to the state,” warns the SAO. He notes that the Department of Defense chapter’s spending has nearly doubled in the past five years. At the same time, however, he pointed out that the increase in expenses must correspond to the ministry’s ability to use the money effectively and economically, which the office did not demonstrate in previous inspections.

This was, for example, the procurement of armaments or armored vehicles. Last year, the office found that the army did not ensure the planned renewal of military vehicle technology or the material needs of the army in radiation, chemical and biological protection. The authority says the average age of army vehicles is almost 21 years, with some having been in service for as long as 39 years. The ministry inefficiently and purposefully spent on repairs of automotive technology with an exceeded service life, in some cases it paid more for the repair than the price of a new vehicle, the office points out. Minister of Defense Jana Černochová (ODS) said last year that the age of cars in the army is the result of investigations in recent decades.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Czech Republic learned lesson sufficiently prepared crises emergencies SAO

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