In what is an unprecedented move, His Majesty The King has commanded that the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu will be continued for another 15 months starting this month. The Royal initiative considers the impact on the economy, the 12th Plan and the increasing national debt in providing kidu to the people. To lift the burden on the government coffer, the kidu will be funded from the National Resilience Fund (NRF).
The kidu, granted in two forms- monthly income support and loan interest payment to borrowers, is a huge burden. As of March this year, interest payment support amounted to Nu 11.06 billion(B) out of which Nu 9.18B was granted as the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu and Nu 1.88B was borne by financial institutions. But in His Majesty’s wisdom, this should continue to reduce the burden on Bhutanese affected by the pandemic.
To cope up with the Covid-19 impact, many countries have come up with fiscal and monetary policies at the cost of the state, but it is different in our country. The burden is on His Majesty’s Kidu Fund and the Sungchob Fund, both earmarked for an important national cause – Gyalsung or Bhutan’s National Service, a project for the youth that is very close to His Majesty’s heart.
The Royal vision is clear. His Majesty wants to support the people during times of difficulties “as ensuring the wellbeing of our people must take precedence over even our most important national projects.” Bhutanese, both of who are dependent on the kidu and the rest, welcomed the news with symbols of folded hands. The Kidu will not only help the affected but many others who have benefited from the Royal initiative. His Majesty in granting the kidu has not differentiated the beneficiaries. A unique feature of the kidu is that many will benefit, especially the loan interest waiver and the deferment.
We know that a huge group of people, especially the salaried in the government and corporations are not affected. Many are still receiving their salary and housing allowance. Yet, they are included in the kidu. Big businesses made the most of the Kidu. The Kidu last year made it possible for many to have three meals a day and educate their children. Some made huge profits from the Kidu that translated into Toyota Prados and investments. Banks have seen a surge in deposits during a pandemic that has affected their performance. Bhutanese never stopped buying new cars during a pandemic. All these indicate that some sections of the population were not affected at all.
We are hearing that some are already calculating their profits from the kidu after 15 months. This is the biggest irony in Bhutan during a pandemic. While His Majesty The King has not differentiated who should and shouldn’t benefit from the kidu, we should be morally conscious of how to use the kidu.
As of yesterday, eligibility for the Royal Kidu has not changed. Those who had borrowed from banks before April 10, 2020, are eligible. In other words, the Kidu on interest payment would benefit many who are not as affected as we claim. His Majesty The King would not differentiate his people. It is, therefore, the moral responsibility of the people if they should make a profit from a Royal Kidu or let the affected make their ends meet from the Kidu.
There are already discussions on social media. Some are calling on people to not apply for the kidu if they are not affected. Some are blunt in asking people to use their judgment. The best service to the King and the country, during a pandemic, is being honest and not making a profit from the pandemic or a Royal Kidu.
The message is clear. The most generous kidu from His Majesty The King could blur the noble intention if people fail to understand the purpose of kidu. It is not an opportunity to maximise profit or improve savings.