The measure is clearly intended to rein in Belgium's budget deficit.
Orders worth less than 5,500 euros can still be placed and the federal government can still give a dispensation, if need be.
However, Steven Vandeput, a lawmaker for Belgium's largest political party, the Flemish nationalist N-VA, is not impressed: "Ministries have not been able to make any big orders or sign any big contracts since 22 November. This is a normal measure at the end of the year, but in order to rein in the deficit all kinds of tricks are being used. It cries for vengeance that this measure is taking effect six weeks earlier than usual."
The opposition lawmaker warns that delaying contracts means we're storing up problems for the future: "This shows the government stands for not taking decisions."