More are being verified
To mark an auspicious beginning for the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday deposited the relief kidu funds to the bank accounts of 108 beneficiaries.
Assessments have been carried out only for 18,880 applications from all 20 dzongkhags received between April 14 and 23. Of that, 13,006 have been assessed as beneficiaries. Others are under further review.
The monthly relief kidu comes in two categories: a full amount of Nu 12,000, and partial amount Nu 8,000. Of the total kidu recipients, 9,716 were assessed as being eligible for the full amount.
Those employees of affected businesses who have been laid off, or placed on unpaid leave or reduced pay were assessed for the full amount. It also includes self-employed individuals in the tourism sector who have lost their earnings, and Bhutanese workers who have returned home from abroad because of the pandemic and have no other sources of income.
Self-employed individuals in tourism-linked businesses and other businesses affected by social distancing, mandatory closures and curfews have been assessed for the partial amount of the Relief Kidu.
In addition, a child support of Nu 800 a child per month has also been granted as kidu, which will be, disbursed within the first half of this month following additional verification.
His Majesty The King in the address to the nation on April 10, commanded that: “Many of our people working in the tourism and hospitality sector, including small restaurants, entertainment centres, truck drivers, taxi drivers, etc., have suffered the loss of jobs and income, and are finding it difficult even to pay house rents.
It is of utmost importance to extend immediate relief to the vulnerable people before the situation deteriorates. Therefore, the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu will be granted to support the people, provide relief, and enable them to withstand their ordeals through this period.”
The relief kidu, Lyonchhen said was more than financial support and akin to being blessed with a wish-fulfilling gem. He said that Bhutanese have always been privileged with His Majesty’s kidu throughout.
The remaining applicants have errors in citizenship identity numbers, bank account numbers and other necessary details.
“These applications are also being worked on in the meantime,” Lyonchhen said.
Finance Secretary Nim Dorji said that the payments were made through the government’s electronic Public Expenditure Management System (e-PEMS). He said that system has come handy in disbursing payments and supporting the physical distancing enforcement during the time of Covid-19.
“As the Relief Kidu is granted to an individual for a period of three months, it will be critical for the recipient to seek employment opportunities,” a press release from the committee stated.
The government, in partnership with the private sector, would also facilitate the creation of employment opportunities for affected people by expediting and accelerating the implementation of the reprioritised activities of the 12th Plan through frontloading of budgetary outlays.
The government would also actively match individuals with job openings, which will allow affected individuals to find employment, thereby enabling them to transition out of the Kidu.
“It will be of utmost importance for all Bhutanese to participate in the nation-building process to support their livelihoods and sustain national economic activities.”
The committee’s press release stated that the continuation of the Relief Kidu would depend on the evolving nature of the pandemic and the government’s Covid-19 containment measures.
“If the situation worsens over time, more individuals will have to be supported, and the Kidu amount will be determined on a downward sliding scale to ensure wider coverage.”
About 137 officials from various government agencies and corporate offices have volunteered to work for the relief Kidu centre in different capacities. “Some were working even more than 12 hours every day since the launch of the Relief Kidu,” RMA’s deputy governor Yangchen Tshogyal said. She leads the technical support team for the relief kidu.
“Their dedication has been truly amazing, and we are all motivated and inspired by His Majesty.”
During His Majesty’s second visit to the centre yesterday evening, His Majesty interacted with all those helping at the centre and extended His appreciation.
“This was an especially emotional moment for all of us. We are all feeling the weight of the trust that His Majesty has placed on us to implement this historic Relief Kidu which will touch the lives of many, many Bhutanese people in their hour of need,” she said.
The team excludes officials in the dzongkhags as well as the finance ministry’s e-PEMS team and the bank officials who are also helping the team.
The online application is temporarily suspended for the next three days to improve the form and carry out some data analysis to be able to target the Relief Kidu better, Yangchen Tshogyal said. It would be available from May 4.
However, officials will respond to calls to the toll-free number 1188.
The Relief Kidu application process is designed to ensure accessibility and transparency with the simultaneous application through online methods as well as through walk-in centres across the 20 dzongkhags and a toll-free line (1188) to respond to queries from the people.