Lyonchhen launches the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu

Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu gets off to a roaring start

2000 plus applications on day 1 itself

Most people calling are from the tourism industry

The Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu was launched on 14th April Tuesday morning around 10.30 am by the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering.

Immediately after the launch, the RMA Governor Dasho Penjo informed the gathering that the Labour Secretary informed him that there were a lot of calls already coming in on the hotline of 1188.

The website was up a couple of hours later by afternoon.

According to sources, the first day itself saw 2,000 plus applications being submitted. The total number is not yet available, but it would have gone up considerably in the following days until Friday evening when the paper went to print.

A person manning the phone line said that the majority of the calls are from people in the tourism industry. She said, “Most of the calls are from free lance tour guides, those working in hotels and also entertainment like Drayangs. We also get a lot of calls from taxi drivers as well as some tourist vehicle drivers and even truck drivers.”

She said that there were also a few calls from some Gomchens who said they have no source of income due to social distancing and people not visiting religious places as much.

There were a couple of casual calls from civil servants and government corporate employees calling in unaware that they are not eligible.

She said that in the last four days she has not received any call from a farmer.

The gender of the callers are mainly male, but there are also females calling in and they mainly work in the hotels in the front desk, cleaning and other positions or in Drayangs.

Another person who also mans the phone lines said that she gets around 70 to 80 calls in a day and in most cases they call with enquiries and are able to submit the applications online. She said that there are only a few cases where the person on the phone line has to help fill up the form.

Most of the calls are from the affected urban areas like Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Paro but there are calls from other Dzongkhags too.

A day before the launch, the RMA Governor, while meeting with the volunteers who would be involved in the process said, “Each of us have an important responsibility to deliver His Majesty’s Kidu from the Throne to the hands of the right and deserving people.”

The Governor addressing the media about the various Kidu initiatives said that this is a story that will not be written in the next 100 years and it is story which will reflect what Bhutan is to the rest of the world.

Dasho said that His Majesty said that Bhutan will not be an exception to what is happening globally and many countries will suffer and be impacted, but how much the countries suffer and how much they are impacted will all depend on the level of preparedness.

“So we are actually going through a preparedness led by His Majesty himself and the government is also a big player in this,” said Dasho.

Dasho said that the essence of His Majesty’s Kidu is equity, clarity and simplicity, which is why it is being implemented across the board, including the loan waivers. He said once this is done across the board there is no worry about who will get or not, there is also no worry about clarity and how to explain to different groups and when applied, it is simple and equitable.

Dasho said these kinds of things cannot be done via government policy.

Dasho also explained that the Kidu for three months provides a breathing space until the stimulus projects in construction, tourism and agriculture, among others come into play.

“His Majesty has said that when we get over COVID-19 we should come out stronger, more bonded, enterprising and forceful,” said the Governor.

It was emphasized that this magnitude and Kidu was untested waters and so the people and teams involved in this needed to be dynamic, humble and patient.

The Deputy Governor of RMA Yangchen Tshogyel asked the volunteers to keep an open mind. She said that while the aim of the Kidu is to help the right people, the verification should also not be conducted in a very stringent manner as the aim is to help as many people as possible.

She also said that the people manning the phone lines are like the Kidu ambassadors of His Majesty and so people should not feel scared to contact them and they must not only answer queries patiently but also help people.

Though there are measures to help the illiterate, sick and the disabled the focus for the rest would be to put in online applications.

The Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering also dropped into talk to the volunteers.

Lyonchhen said, “His Majesty’s Kidu is unprecedented and unique and failure is not an option. We must ensure 100 percent success. For Bhutanese when you say His Majesty’s Kidu it is difficult to exclude as all Bhutanese can get HM’s Kidu but at the same time there are only limited resources and so there has to be verification.”

There is not much issues to verify people from formal sector but the teams will have a unique challenge in verifying people from the informal sector. This is where the associations will also come into play like that of the Thukpa sellers.

Other associations will also help to ensure verification like Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bhutan, Guides Association of Bhutan, Handicraft Association and others.

Eligibility and application

The people who are eligible for the Druk Gyalpo Relief Kidu are those who have been laid off or placed on unpaid leave from businesses affected by COVID-19, including Bhutanese who have returned home and do not have any source of income.

Employees on reduced salary will be eligible for 50 percent of the total Kidu amount in order to encourage employers to retain staff.

Self-employed individuals who have lost their earning either partially or completely (eg taxi drivers, truck drivers, free-lance guides, etc) will get Kidu.

Self employed individuals who have lost their earnings partially (if so declared in the application form) will be eligible for 50 percent of the total Kidu amount.

Beneficiaries who are engaged in government-funded activities at the time of application or who subsequently engage themselves in government-funded activities will be eligible for Kidu and can collect the whole Kidu amount.

This is to allow them to earn something extra and also help contribute to the Bhutanese economy in fields like construction, agriculture etc. where there is a labour shortage.

If an applicant does not fit the eligibility criteria, the applicant can call the toll free number 1188 where their details will be recorded for further review by the Committee. Such people will also be put in a list of people who can take part in the government stimulus measures.

Digital application through the website www.royalkidu.bt will be encouraged but applicants who cannot apply online can call the hotline 1188 where the operator will help fill up the application form.

If applicants do not wish to provide their information over the phone, their contact details will be recorded, the list of all such applicants will be compiled and a convenient date and time intimated when such applicants can come physically to the designated centers for assistance. There will be a special assistance channels will be set up for the disabled.

The Kidu Amount has not been finalized yet. The Kidu will be available for the months of April, May and June 2020.

The application will be open throughout the three months and beneficiaries will recive Kidu from the month in which they apply.

Successful beneficiaries will be notified through SMS. Applicants who are assessed as being ineligible will be notified specially through phone calls explaining why they were not found eligible. Applicants will be informed that the Kidu team will follow up to see if the applicant’s eligibility changes in the next month.

The Kidu will be transferred directly to their bank accounts. Others who cannot or do not want to open a bank account will receive the Kidu in cash from the Dzongda.

Those applying for Kidu in April before the last week will get it by the end of April but those applying by the end of April after the 23rd will get it by the first week of May. Those applying for Kidu in May will get it for May and June and those applying in June will get it for June.

Implementation and verification

In terms of the implementation, the people will either submit forms online, through phone or in paper.

The backend tech and data team team taking the calls will clarify queries, assist in applications and record outliers. The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources will be lead for the application and hotline team. The phone lines will be open 7 days a week from 9 am to 7 pm.

The teach and data team also comprises of people from the Center of Bhutan Studies, RMA and the National Service Secretariat.

At the submission level itself the online data system will filter out the CID card numbers of civil servants and corporate employees and others who are not eligible.

Once the application is submitted online, a SMS notification to the effect will be sent to the applicant instant acknowledging receipt of the application.

There will also be Grievance Cell which is to be headed by the Prime Minister’s Office. The Grievance Cell will record grievances and give redress where possible if within the scope of applications or verification team or submit it to the committee.

The verification team will verify the information provided by applicants by calling up employers or association members among others. They will also have data to cross check. The verification team will be coordinated by the PMO.

The verification team after doing its job will submit a report to the senior committee headed by the Prime Minister with members like the Finance and Labour Ministers, representative from the Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon a eight-member specialist team and Deputy Governor of the RMA as its member secretary. The committee is in charge of overall coordination and review of the final list and outliers.

This committee in turn will hand over the list to the Office of the Gylapoi Zimpon for submission to His Majesty for final approval.

Once approval is given the disbursement team will get into action to disburse the funds. The disbursement team will be from the Ministry of Finance.

There will also be a systems audit to see how efficient the system is.

The National Service Secretariat will take the lead in coming up with advocacy materials.

The Dzongkhags will design their own protocol to receive information including helping illiterate people.

About Tenzing Lamsang

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