Younten Tshedup

With the fiscal measures, especially the loan interest waiver, coming to an end on June 30, hotelier Kencho Lham was worried. Her new hotel has not operated since completion on March 5.

With huge investment made in the hotel, and business stopped even before its inauguration, it was a nerve-wracking experience for Kencho. However, like for hundreds of other business operators, the phase II of His Majesty The King’s Relief Kidu came as a huge relief.

She said, “The past three months helped me stay calm and peaceful amidst the uncertainty of Covid-19. But as the months passed swiftly and the pandemic worsened, deep inside I was worried.”

Kencho said that it would have been difficult for His Majesty to go on supporting the entire nation literally giving away money to citizens. “So, I thought the interest waiver would not continue.”

However, when Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering announced the second phase, like many others, the mother of three felt a huge burden lifted off her heart. “I felt so blessed to be born in Bhutan. There is no leader on this earth who cares so much for his people than our King. I cannot thank my King enough.”

With the pandemic affecting the hospitality sector the most, many hoteliers expressed their gratitude to the King and the government.

Another hotelier, Chencho Tshering said he has spent several sleepless nights resulting from the pandemic. “His Majesty’s Kidu has once again saved me. I want to fulfill my loan responsibilities dutifully, but without any income, there is no way for us to pay back,” he said.

He said that with business closed, the task of paying each of his staff has become challenging. “I’ve not even dreamt of laying off any of my staff. My family and I decided that we will keep them and we were even ready to beg, borrow or steal because they have been great employees. They would be badly affected if they lose their only source of income.”

Chencho Tshering said that Covid-19 is here to stay and that he would have to strategise his business to at least be able to pay his staff. “My hope is also that the financial institutes continue to support us. We will definitely pay back when the situation improves, ” he said.

“I pray that my King is blessed with a peaceful and successful reign and that we as citizens shall serve the nation wholeheartedly, come what may.”

Karma Jigme of Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro said that the loan repayment deferment announcement on the command of His Majesty has come as a blessing to all during such trying times. “We are thankful and relieved. Further the deferment of BIT/CIT payment for hospitality sectors until December is much needed support extended by the government.”

President of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan, Sonam Wangchuk said that the primary benefits hoteliers would receive from the fiscal measures would be less pressure on their fixed costs. This means that hotels can still be retained by the owner and still be in the position to project for future even if there is no business.

“When there is no income for the hotels, their fixed cost would keep compiling leading to bankruptcy in the long run. This has been prevented by the Kidu,” he said.

dusitD2 Yarkay’s general manager Sonam Maekay Penjor said that besides the chaos and disruption brought about by the pandemic, people have realised the blessings and good fortune for being a Bhutanese.

He said as countries across the world struggle, the morale of the people are waning and Bhutanese are no exception. “But in our country there is a flicker of light that has now amassed the strength of a fiery inferno, providing hope and courage to the hearts of the countless people in the country. That flicker of light is our beloved People’s King.”

He said His Majesty’s compassion, dedication, strength and determination has triggered a domino effect whereby the collective strength of the nation has come about.

“Team dusitD2 Yarkay, on behalf of our fellow counterparts, the hospitality industry, would like to express our utmost respect and immense gratitude to our King, the government and the financial institutions.”