Thousands of Bhutanese who were directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic would have woken up this morning with smile on their faces, some money credited in their account, and a sense of relief on their minds.

The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu has started rolling out. Nu 150 million has been granted in the first disbursement benefitting 13,006 people. Recipients of the full kidu, those whose livelihoods were directly impacted, will receive Nu 12,000 for three months. Those that saw a reduction in their income from the pandemic will receive Nu 8,000 for three months. Those affected with children will also see an additional Nu 800 per children for three months.

More than 20,000 people from across the country had applied for the kidu. This is the first batch screened from 18,880 people. The kidu will continue and more people will receive the kidu.

The generous Kidu emanated from the wisdom of His Majesty The King who always believed that people’s welfare at all times, and in all respects, was the sacred duty of the King and that it will be ensured that those people deserving of kidu received it.

The numbers are not final. There is a committee who is still assessing thousands of applications. More people will receive the kidu, in full or half, depending on how badly affected they are.

His Majesty’s kidu is all-encompassing. Long before the monetary kidu, recognising the difficulties faced by people in meeting their loan repayment obligations, His Majesty commanded loan interest waivers and loan payment deferrals. There are talks that committees recommended only those affected to be beneficiaries of the waivers, but it was His Majesty’s wisdom that the waivers to benefit all those who have availed loans. Therefore, we have people not affected benefiting from fiscal measures.

On the command of His Majesty, the interest waiver has now been extended to people with non-performing loan accounts for the same period of three months. Depending on the situation, the Royal Kidu will continue and would cover more if more people are affected.

The royal kidu, besides benefiting thousands of people directly, will leave a lasting impact. In just about two weeks, officials and volunteers who participated in the massive kidu programme verified 18,000 applications. In doing so, they have developed new systems riding on technology, learnt how to improve efficiency and service delivery.

Hundreds of young men and women involved in the programme at various capacities are convinced that service delivery could be improved and professionalised if like-minded people work together for a cause. The exercise proved how efficient Bhutanese are. The team built a database, initiated IT-based systems on the spot and linked many organisations to improve efficiency within days.

Beyond the kidu, a far-reaching impact of the Royal kidu initiatives will be learning from this pandemic.  It was an indication that it is not about whether we can do or not, but whether we are doing or not.

From the experience and the lessons, the greatest appreciation of receiving the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu would be shouldering our responsibilities sincerely to serve the King, Country and the people. It is said that we become wiser after an event. Covid-19 has shown us our strength and potentials.