SZU Blows 67 Million Crowns: Director Sosnovcova Resigns

Prague, Feb 20 (CTK) – Jitka Sosnovcova has resigned as director of the Czech National Institute of Public Health (SZU), says the website of the Health Ministry, which described as alarming the results of the audit of the SZU’s financial management released by the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) on Monday.


The audit uncovered violations of budget discipline worth 67 million crowns, flaws in public procurement and a lack of internal control mechanisms.


“By her step, Sosnovcova wants to provide maximum space for a thorough check of the serious facts mentioned in the NKU report and prevent a negative pressure from the media which both the SZU and the Health Ministry could have faced if she had remained in her post,” the ministry spokeswoman Gabriela Stepanyova said.


The ministry will put up a tender for new SZU director. It has appointed Helena Kazmarova, head of the SZU’s centre of health and living conditions, as the SZU interim director.


The NKU made the audit of the SZU’s financial management in 2014-2016. It uncovered serious shortcomings in the purchases of special material for health devices for HIV and viral hepatitis testing. Along with regular supplies, the SZU also bought some material for which no contract had been signed. In addition, it expediently divided some big contracts, the audit showed.


Sosnovcova told CTK that the mistakes had been caused by a long-term underfinancing of the SZU.


Although the SZU disagrees with some of the NKU’s conclusions, it has started removing the systemic shortcomings already. For example, the section of the SZU deputy director for trade and investment, which was in charge of public procurement, has been abolished and replaced with a department for legal services and public procurement, with reinforced staff, Sosnovcova said.


In reaction to the NKU’s criticism of a lack of internal control in the SZU, she said a department of control and internal audit was established as of January 1, 2018. Simultaneously, a yearly plan of internal audits was outlined with the aim to remedy the flaws.


The NKU check, whose results have appeared on the NKU website, also unveiled extremely low rents of the flats the SZU let to its employees, including Sosnovcova.


The NKU is reportedly going to file a criminal complaint in connection with the audit’s result.


The Health Ministry, for its part, is planning its own extensive check of the SZU’s financial management.