Switzerland's production community has been hit by the news that the Swiss culture ministry (BAK) has already committed its entire $4.7m (SFr7.6m) annual budget for film production and development funding only halfway through the year.

BAK director David Streiff explained at press conference in Berne that the overspend is due to a rapid increase in the number of Swiss feature projects seeking public funding.

Ironically, a raft of public initiatives, launched in recent years to support a film industry in Switzerland, have pushed up the number of funding applications to levels that BAK finds difficult to support. The ministry's film budget has not been adjusted to take account of either the glut of applications or rising production costs in Switzerland and elsewhere.

As a result of its cash-flow crisis, BAK has decided to hold only one funding sitting, rather than the three that were planned, for the rest of the year.

According to BAK film head Marc Wehrlin, the office's problems will deepen unless the Swiss Parliament agrees to grant an additional $2.5m (SFr4m) special payment for 2001 so that BAK can "cope with the present" and honour the existing declarations of intent to fund projects.