Udupi, July 15,2017: Reports indicate that Udupi district and Manipal University have joined the on-going nation-wide campaign against 12% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on sanitary pads.
While a campaign seeking tax exemption on sanitary napkins has been gaining momentum nationwide, Congress leader Veronica Cornelio from Udupi took the lead and submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner.
Meanwhile, the women students of Manipal University also started an online campaign seeking abolition of tax on sanitary pads and urged the government to consider sanitary pads as essential commodity and make them tax-free.
"The Union government is neglecting the basic need of every single woman in this country by imposing 12% tax on sanitary pads, which should have been provided at a low cost. Though, this issue was brought to the notice of the government even before implementation of GST, it has failed to consider it," blames Veronica.
She added that the central government schemes like ’Beti Padhao Beti Bachao’ and ’Swachh Bharat’ will have meaning only if the concerns of a woman are addressed by abolishing tax on sanitary pads. "The government has imposed no GST on bangles, bindi, contraceptive pills and condoms, but why not sanitary pads? Isn’t it a basic need of the women," she questioned, adding they will have a high voltage campaign against it.
Meanwhile, students from Manipal University and other colleges have joined the campaign - ’#Don’t tax on my period’. Sara, a second-year MBBS student, says that women from weaker section cannot spend heavily on sanitary pads while their counterparts from upper society may. The government must provide these pads at subsidized rates or free.
Sushmita Dev, an MP from Silchar in Assam, who started an online campaign through ’change.org’ in March, criticizes that the GST Council had no female members and therefore it did not understand the problems of women.
Speaking to media, she said that a few days ago the Union government sent out a circular that reducing the GST rate on sanitary napkins to nil. This will however, result in complete denial of Input Tax Credit (ITC) to domestic manufacturers of sanitary napkins and zero rating imports. This will make domestically manufactured sanitary napkins at a huge dis-advantage vis-a-vis imports, which will be zero rated. "I don’t agree with government’s argument, why does not government allow produce of environment friendly sanitary napkins instead of foreign brands. Environment friendly sanitary will not pollute nature. This will also reduce burden on common man," she said.
Circular from the ministry of finance mentioned that sanitary napkins are classifiable under heading 9619. In pre-GST regime, they attracted concessional excise duty of 6% and 5% VAT and, the pre-GST estimated total tax incidence on sanitary napkins was 13.68%. Therefore, 12% GST rate had been provided for sanitary napkin.