Nu 2.25bn granted as income support relief Kidu

The DGRK is extended by 15 months till March 2022

The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) granted Nu 2.25bn as income support relief to over 37,000 people and their children in the last one year from April 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021, according to the Office of the DGRK.

Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering announced the nation that the DGRK would be continued for an additional period of 15 months from April 2021 to March 2022 upon the command of His Majesty The King on April 22, coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Zhabdrung Kuchoe.

Lyonchhen said the extension of the DGRK would provide income and interest payment support to people who continue to face economic difficulties and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The applications would be open for three-month cycles over the next 15 months and applicants can apply for income support Kidu and borrowers who are in need of the loan interest payment support Kidu for 50% of the loan interest as Kidu.

Of the 52,644 applicants in the last one year, 45,766 accounting for 86.9% of the total received Kidu at least once. Most of the recipients received lockdown support Kidu, 14.2% of the total applicants received Kidu for all 12 months while 23.3% received Kidu once and 10.8% received Kidu twice, according to the Office of DGRK.

The highest increase in Kidu disbursement was observed in August 2020 and January 2021, which saw an increase of 71.9% and 84.9% respectively because of the grant of the lockdown support Kidu.

The Kidu amount included child support Kidu of Nu. 70.89mn to 9,614 applicants which accounted for about 3% of the total Kidu granted in the last one year.

The tourism sector comprising 86.2% of the total Kidu recipients was the highest beneficiary, followed by returnees at 81.8%.

Moreover, the average number of times persons working in the mining sector applied for Kidu is low at around 5.9% as compared to 7.9% for the other two sectors.

The Kidu office states that these were mainly people working in the boulder export, which was heavily affected during the initial months of the pandemic.

On the other hand, 6,878 applicants or 13.1% did not receive Kidu at all, and the applicants were self-operated retail business owners, tour operators, and people working in transport and communication, construction, and restaurant and food services.

The Office of the DGRK states that majority of these applicants applied only in phase I as there was some confusion on the coverage of the Relief Kidu and the Kidu amount was not announced until the end of April 2020, and is likely that these individuals applied expecting compensation for their business income losses and most of these applicants have not re-applied.

Lyonchhen said the National Resilience Task Force submitted several options on possible sources of the next tranche for the National Resilience Fund (NRF) including transfers from government budget, borrowings from domestic market and concessional loans from multilateral development banks.

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

He added that His Majesty commanded the transfers from government budget would reduce resources earmarked for implementing the 12th plan development budgets.

Moreover, Lyonchhen said the borrowings from the domestic financial market would crowd out the private sector and hinder a speedy economic recovery after the pandemic and external borrowings would increase our 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, states the press release from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Meanwhile, Lyonchhen also said, even as we hope and pray for the pandemic to end soon, our strategy must be to remain fully prepared.

Upon the Royal Command, the next tranche of the National Resilience Fund would be financed in its entirety from His Majesty’s Kidu Fund and the Sungchob Fund, states the press release.

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

“His Majesty The King has said that in order to safeguard our security and sovereignty, we must invest in our youth,” said Lyonchhen. “With this in mind, His Majesty had committed both the Kidu Fund and Sungchob fund for Gyalsung, Bhutan’s National Service.”

Lyonchhen added, “His Majesty has commanded that the funds must now be used to support the people through this period of great difficulty, as ensuring the wellbeing of our people must take precedence over even our most important national projects.”

Additionally, Lyonchhen said those countries not having proper plans whether to give importance in decreasing the COVID-19 cases or preventive measures for the pandemic or national security or livelihood and economic situation of the country are severely affected by the COVID-19. “The surge in the COVID-19 cases has worsen both the pandemic and economic situation,” he added.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu