Budget to meet Covid-19 expenses and support economic revival initiatives

Considering the recent detection of community transmission in several dzongkhags as a cause of concern, the government has earmarked a budget of Nu 3 billion (B) as a Covid-19 response, according to Finance Minister Namgay Tshering.

Presenting the annual budget financial year 2021-2022 during the fifth session of the third Parliament yesterday, Lyonpo said that the earmarked budget was to meet the Covid-19 containment related expenses and support economic revival initiatives.

“Given the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing health and economic risks posed by the second wave, our focus is on health, livelihood and safety of people,” Lyonpo said. “The government will continue to emphasise on the surveillance, early detection, control and prevention measures.”

Of the 3B total budget, Nu 2B is provisioned under the General Reserve and Nu 1B from external sources.

The Nu 1B budget will be used to meet quarantine expenses, procurement of test kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), vaccines, and to support economic recovery measures and will be incorporated under the Cabinet Secretariat (Nu 300 million) to meet quarantine expenses.

The rest, Nu 700M, will be under the health ministry for procurement of test kits, PPEs, and vaccines after completing the formalities.

Lyonpo said that the government would provide the necessary budget to ensure public health and safety, maintaining public confidence and macroeconomic stability.

Lyonpo also reported that the budget provision for Covid-19 response for the last two financial years was met from the disaster contingency provisioned under the general reserve and through technical adjustment. 

For the financial year 2020-2021, a budget of Nu 2.6B was provided to support Covid-19 related activities. However, the total cumulative expenditure for Covid-19 related activities was Nu 4.6B.

The majority of the budget was spent on PPE, drugs, non-drugs and flu clinics with Nu 1554.919M (both recurrent and capital), and Nu 701.768M for quarantine (logistics and food).

The government also met the expenditure through support from development partners such as government of India, UN agencies, JICA, Asian Development Bank, World Bank and others.

Lyonpo said that the National Resilience Fund (NRF) has been established with a fund of Nu 30B as per Royal Command. The NRF is used for grant of Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) for income support to individual directly affected by the pandemic and interest payment support to individuals and business entities. The fund for NRF is being entirely sourced from HM’s Kidu Fund and Sungchop Fund.  

The Druk Holding Investment contributed Nu 1,564M and Royal Monetary Authority Nu 2B (general reserve) to the NRF.

As per the budget report, from April 2020 to April 2021, Nu 12B was disbursed from NRF for income and interest payment support.

The DGRK has granted Nu 2.8B in monthly income support to about 45,766 individuals including de-suung skilling program and Nu 70.890M as child support kidu. 

Coinciding with Zhabdrung Kuchoe, His Majesty commanded the continuation of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu for 15 more months from April 2021 to be sourced from Kidu Fund and Sungchop Fund.

As of April 30 this year, Nu 9B was granted as interest payment support while financial service providers bore Nu 1,880M as interest payment support.

By Yangchen C Rinzin

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk