Coinciding with the auspicious Zhabdrung Kuchoe, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering announced His Majesty The King’s command to continue the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu for 15 more months (Photo: PMO)

… most of them are previous beneficiaries

Tshering Palden

Considering the ongoing social and economic difficulties Bhutanese face due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainties stemming from regional and global developments, His Majesty The King commanded the continuation of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) for 15 more months.

Close to 5,000 people applied for DGRK within 48 hours after Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering announced His Majesty The King’s command on April 22 coinciding with Zhabdrung Kuchoe. Of that, 4,600 were re-applicants.

The DGRK provides two types of relief kidu: Income Support Kidu and Loan Interest Payment Support Kidu.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tsherign said that while finalising the possible sources of the next tranche of financing for the National Resilience Fund (NRF), the NRF Task Force submitted several options, including transfers from government budget, borrowings from domestic market, and concessional loans from multilateral development banks. 

However, Lyonchhen said that His Majesty commanded that efforts to replenish the NRF should neither disrupt the economy nor affect the development plans and projects of the government.

According to Lyonchhen, His Majesty foresaw such measures leading to serious ramifications. Transfers from the government budget would reduce resources earmarked for implementing the 12th Plan development projects. Borrowing from the domestic financial market would crowd out the private sector and hinder a speedy economic recovery after the pandemic. External borrowings would increase the national debt and burden future generations.

“These are measures which may be considered at a later time in the event that the pandemic worsens or recovery prolongs, and when other means of addressing our difficulties have been exhausted. In the meantime, even as we hope and pray for the pandemic to end soon, our strategy must be to remain fully prepared,” Lyonchhen said, citing the Royal command.

Therefore, Lyonchhen said, the Royal command has been granted that the next tranche of the NRF be financed in its entirety from His Majesty’s Kidu Fund and the Sungchob Fund. His Majesty’s Kidu Fund has been used to grant Kidu to thousands of Bhutanese to alleviate hardships and provide the ultimate social safety net.

“The Sungchob Fund was established by our Kings as a security fund for the country during times of need,” Lyonchhen said.

“His Majesty The King has said that in order to safeguard our security and sovereignty, we must invest in our youth. With this in mind, His Majesty had committed both the Kidu Fund and Sungchob Fund for Gyalsung, Bhutan’s National Service. However, His Majesty has commanded that the Funds must now be used to support our people through this period of great difficulty, as ensuring the wellbeing of our people must take precedence over even our most important national projects,” he said.

The NRF was set up in April 2020 to provide economic relief to people through the DGRK. The relief Kidu granted monthly income support to individuals and loan interest payment support to borrowers for a period of one year until March 2021. Over 37,000 people and their children have been granted monthly income support by Kidu in the last one year, while close to 140,000 loan accounts benefited from the interest payment support.

Applications for income support Kidu and loan interest payment support Kidu (50 percent of the loan interest) will be considered on 3-month cycles over the next 15 months.

Income Support Kidu

The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu will be continued for those whose livelihoods continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic falling under four categories. Employees who have been laid off, or placed on unpaid leave or reduced salary from businesses in tourism and tourism-dependent sectors that have no earnings; employees of businesses that are mandated to remain closed; individuals engaged in self-operated businesses in tourism and tourism dependent sectors that have no earnings; and Bhutanese who were working abroad and have returned home because of loss of employment caused by Covid-19.

Applicants must have no other means of sustaining their livelihoods and must actively look for jobs and other engagement programmes of the government and the private sector. Desk and field verifications will be conducted to assess eligibility.

The Kidu amount will be Nu 10,000 for the full amount and Nu 7,000 for the partial amount. Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) certified hotels and established tour agencies have to continue providing employee information through the Relief Kidu Employee Management System.

Applications for this cycle will be open for the three-month period of April, May and June 2021. Applicants from the last one year (April 2020 – March 2021) must re-apply and provide additional information. Applications are also open to new applicants.

Applicants can either apply online through the kidu website or submit a completed application form to the dzongkhag administration. The applicant will receive SMS notification when the Kidu has been granted or if the applicant is not eligible.

Eligible applicants will receive Kidu from the month of application. Therefore, an application must be submitted by the last day of the month to be assessed for that particular month.

Loan Interest Payment Support Kidu   

Individuals and businesses with loans outstanding as of April 10, 2020, including non-performing loans, that were availed from Bhutanese financial service providers are eligible to apply.

Loans to the government, loans to financial institutions, staff incentive loans and credit card loans are not eligible.

An applicant can apply any time before July 10 for Kidu support for any or all three months of April, May and June 2021.

For further information on the relief Kidu, call Toll Free Numbers 1186, 1187, and 1188.