Just two months into 2010, the Dutch Defence Ministry has exhausted its hardware budget. That's according to an internal e-mail quoted by daily newspaper De Telegraaf on Tuesday.
For the rest of the year the country's armed forces will only be able to afford materials that are absolutely essential.
The ministry's head of Military Equipment, Lex Hendrichs, is quoted as writing that the Dutch mission in Uruzgan will not be affected by any cuts. No new contracts will be signed, however, for new armoured vehicles or helicopters to replace outdated equipment. Purchases of munitions and clothing will be reduced "to no more than the absolute minimum".
The 2009 budget was overspent by 120 million euros and the deficit compensated for by using money from the 2010 budget, leading to its early depletion. The Defence Ministry, according to De Telegraaf, would no longer be able to pay the bills of its suppliers on time.
The upper echelons of the defence forces are negotiating to find a way out of the financial quandary.
Caretaker Deputy Defence Minister Jack de Vries, who is responsible for the defence forces' hardware purchases, has not commented on the newspaper report.