Ministries banned from making big orders

Belgium's federal ministries have been told not to make any big expenditure during the remaining weeks of the year. Budget Minister Chastel has sent out a circular letter to this effect to all Belgium's federal ministries. Opposition lawmaker Steven Vandeput says that the measure cries out for vengeance.

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."