Tshering Palden 

After lighting butter lamps and offering prayers at a simple ceremony yesterday morning, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering launched His Majesty The King’s Relief Kidu for all those who have lost jobs, businesses or are placed on reduced salaries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The relief Kidu will provide immediate financial support for three months, until June.

“Besides defraying the living expenses and sustaining demand for goods and services, the Royal Kidu would also boost morale and provide assurance and hope despite the current hardships,” an earlier press release from the Prime Minister Office stated.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that for an ordinary Bhutanese, in the Covid-19 situation, one can only worry and care about their own family and the immediate circles. Likely so, it is important one takes care of the family in this challenging time.

“But thinking beyond a household, out of compassion and concern for the entire country, is His Majesty The King who offers respite to the suffering of every Bhutanese in all parts of the world.”

“To think properly, every word and action of His Majesty translates as a kidu for the people of Bhutan at all times. However, today, the launch of Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu is an antidote to those who have been affected by Covid-19.”

The Kidu is for those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. There are those who have been directly hit and others who don’t have the means to feed their families the moment their work stops. It covers both formal and informal sectors.

Lyonchhen said that His Majesty’s Kidu during Covid-19 was not just limited to that.

“Given the fact that coronavirus is harsher on those with underlying conditions and old age, His Majesty initiated several Kidu packages to protect the vulnerable section of the society from Covid-19 at all cost,” he said.

Making sure all Bhutanese have enough food and essential supplies during the emergencies, the government was commanded to go beyond basics and procure enough to sustain for at least six months.

Bhutanese abroad, who were in need of financial support for logistics while battling the disease were ensured accommodation.

His Majesty also granted Kidu to students studying overseas and who are seeking to return but unable to afford, Lyonchhen said.

“To encompass the vastness of endeavours His Majesty undertakes for each one of us is incomprehensible and beyond our human conception. It is also for the same reason that Bhutan will see through this turmoil and restore the country to a new realm.”

While the relief Kidu will help the needy to see through this difficult time, Lyonchhen said the government was preparing plans and programmes to restore livelihoods.

Dasho Sonam Kinga, a member of the 8-member specialists’ team that formulated the relief Kidu, said that granting the relief Kidu was an unprecedented move out of His Majesty’s sheer foresight and wisdom.

“Elsewhere around the world, governments are beginning to discuss the measures that Bhutan has already implemented following the His Majesty’s command,” he said.

He said the relief Kidu would be provided as swiftly as possible.

“Relief Kidu will be for a period of three months. Beneficiaries will receive the Kidu from the month in which they have applied,” he said.

“Despite so our best efforts in terms of preparedness and resources, given that there would be a large number of applications, we urge aspiring applicants for their patience and understanding should there be any delay in response to their queries.”

For instance, if a person has applied in April, he/she will receive the Relief Kidu for April, May and June. If the person applied in May, he or she will receive the Kidu for May and June. Likewise, if the application is filed in June then the Kidu would for June.

How does the system work? 

About 15 operators are stationed at the centre to attend to calls to 1188, the toll-free number set for the Kidu registration.

The applications are entered into a system that is fully developed by Bhutanese IT experts from RMA, CBS, national service secretariat, and a few other related sectors.

“The system is as transparent, robust, and efficient as it can be and the icing on the cake is that it leaves little room for human error,” Governor, Dasho Penjor said.

Applicants’ details are run through numerous databases including that of the economic affairs and labour ministries, the civil registry, associations in the tourism sector, among others for thorough screening. This process completes more than 80 percent of the verification.

The applications then go to a set of trained volunteers who sieve through the details and prepare the papers for the committee who submits them for grant of the Kidu.

On successful application, the individual will be granted the monetary Kidu which will be directly deposited in the individual’s account.