Nima Wangdi

After losing his tourism business to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a Thimphu resident started running a hotel in Thimphu town.

While the hotel remains closed because of the ongoing lockdown, he has to pay monthly salaries to his employees.

Choosing anonymity, the businessman said he remained jobless for about two years and started the hotel business six months ago to generate job opportunities for people and reduce pressure on His Majesty’s Kidu Office.

He said he and his staff, who were mostly laid off from tourism and hotel industries due to the pandemic, did not apply for kidu. “We tried to sustain on our own.”

He claimed his hotel, with about 30 sitting capacity, was doing well with about 10 employees.

He also started delivery services until the lockdown brought it to a standstill. “I have now asked my employees to apply for the Kidu since my business doesn’t sound promising any longer.”

The father of three said his house owner waived off 50 percent rent, which is of great help. “The lockdown impacted businesses badly.”

He said he would appreciate if the government could provide them with some genuine service loan at such a time. “We can start working after the lockdown and then pay them back.”

Another businessman, who hires heavy machines, said while his business has come to a total stop, he would still have to repay the loan. “Bank officials call, reminding us of the loan repayment even during holidays.”

He said they do not have any income during the lockdown. “This is a difficult time for me,” he said. “Only those who availed loans before the onset of the pandemic benefited from the loan deferment and interest waiver.”

He said it would be of a huge relief if loans could be deferred for those who availed loans after the pandemic as well. “I have to pay full monthly salary to six employees.”

An automobile workshop owner in Olakha and the executive member of the automobile workshop association, Karma Tenzin, said most of the workshop owners are going through a difficult time.

He said while they cannot work, they have to pay salaries for the employees and house rents as usual. “If I don’t pay salary to my employees regularly, no one would come to work after the lockdown.”

He said private businesses are suffering. “Many countries isolate people who test positive and allow others to work, but in our country, there is lockdown every time there is a single positive case from the community.”

Another workshop owner said the house rent is high at the Olakha workshop area. “The government has not intervened saying that they have no authority. That’s why most of the workshop owners couldn’t really save for such difficult times.”

He said the government announced on national television that the house rent waiver should be house owners’ prerogative since the government hasn’t helped them while constructing their house. “This should have been otherwise. When loan deferment and interest waiver is provided, house rent waiver should have been compulsory.”

He claimed the loan deferment and interest waiver benefits those who have bigger businesses. “The government should look into it carefully.”

A vegetable vendor at the Centenary Farmers’ Market said vegetables worth about Nu 35,000 got damaged and were dumped.

She said she has not yet paid for these vegetables and it’s not going to be easy.

The mother of one said she is surviving on her savings for now, but will face difficulty if the lockdown prolongs. “I tried to sell them to the vegetable vendor in Ziukha but could not. I could not even donate it to a monastery since travel is restricted.”

She said she faced difficulty paying for the vegetables she bought even during the earlier lockdowns because of a similar problem. “I took a long time to clear the bill and I fear the same this time.”