Under GST, 12% tax on toiletries: ‘Sanitary napkins not a luxury, should be made tax-free’

While a campaign asking for exemption of tax on sanitary napkins has been gaining momentum, a finance ministry official said this is not the solution. “Domestic manufacturers won’t be able to claim input tax credit and the production cost of sanitary napkins will go up,” he said.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Updated: July 6, 2017 6:55 am
GST rollout, GST on sanitary napkins, Sanitary napkins tax, GST on toiletries Under GST, 12% tax on toiletries, including sanitary pads. (Representational Image)

Radha (40), a mother of six, stopped buying sanitary napkins about a year ago. It was an expenditure she couldn’t afford since her husband’s salary didn’t increase last year. Budget cuts were made, and so did her share of Rs 100/month on sanitary napkins. “I started using cloth because pads are too expensive. We are a big family of seven and our income is Rs 17,000-Rs 20,000 a month. If pads were cheaper, everyone would buy them,” says Radha, who wonders how the GST (Goods and Services Tax) will affect sale of sanitary napkins.

A resident of New Ashok Nagar, 32-year-old Saroj has three daughters — aged 11, 15 and 16. With three menstruating members in the family, the housewife spends Rs 300 a month on sanitary napkins.

“The months I cannot afford the right number of packets of sanitary napkins, I end up using cloth. I can’t let my daughters use it, so I compromise,” she says. Her husband earns Rs 15,000 per month and the “pads are unaffordable every few months”.

With the GST putting toiletries, including sanitary napkins, in the 12 per cent slab, she is nervous. “This is not a luxury item. We are women, we go through this every month, and not out of choice. Sanitary napkins should cost very little; it should be tax-free,” says Saroj.

Last November, 13-year-old Anshu was acquainted with the sanitary napkin by her mother, who ensured that her Class VIII daughter would never use cloth. The promise was broken in January when the family couldn’t afford sanitary napkins, and she had to switch to cloth.

“Six people live in one house, and only my father earns, that too about Rs 10,000 per month. With one breadwinner, there are a lot of problems. Even a raise of Rs 20 (in the price) will affect us,” says Anshu.

Her friends — Lakshmi and Shalini, aged 14 — chime in and say how shocked they were when they learnt that the new tax would make sanitary napkins more expensive. “We come from low-income families. If they keep increasing the rate, we won’t be able to afford it one day. What will we do then?” asks Shalini.

While a campaign asking for exemption of tax on sanitary napkins has been gaining momentum, a finance ministry official said this is not the solution. “Domestic manufacturers won’t be able to claim input tax credit and the production cost of sanitary napkins will go up,” he said.

As of now, there are no figures to indicate how much a packet of sanitary napkins will cost or the rise in prices once GST is implemented.

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    parthasarathy pr
    Jul 17, 2017 at 10:10 am
    I am yet to see any article which talks about what was custom / tax etc.. before gst and what is the GST. there are far pressing women problem that requires attention where nothing is done constructively by these women rather than to sit and criticize with irrational comparison like no gst for condom. if they have any senses they must understand that indian growth is eaten away by increase in population which indirectly is increasing the denominator. If they want a positive response from government then the representation and tone of communication makes a difference. Invariably the tone of all is that of MIL
    Reply
    1. U
      Uncle Pi
      Jul 7, 2017 at 10:28 pm
      What was the earlier tax, if any, including Excise and VAT? I'm not sure if the price will go up or should. The GST ought to set off both of them.
      Reply
      1. P
        parthasarathy pr
        Jul 17, 2017 at 10:11 am
        we donot want sensible conversation, so we donot like your comments hahaha
        Reply
      2. G
        George P
        Jul 7, 2017 at 3:10 pm
        Tax increase on Napkins is a tragedy. This should have been provided tax free to make people try to get healthier and only making it tax free rural villagers use them in future to make villagers healthier . s are in the Tax dep only PM Modi is thinking with future in mind!
        Reply
        1. S
          Sutapa Ghosh
          Jul 7, 2017 at 2:51 pm
          Oh! What e achhe din MINISTER SIR! BETI Padhao.Beti Bachao wala apka jo slogan hai na AAP khud hi us par hans paro.Right.HEY Girls You pl.remain babies ok.Do not turn into teens and ladies .Minister ke paas paisa nahi hai BETILOG.By the woh SCAM kisko lahte hain? Kanhi wonha to ........
          Reply
          1. S
            Shaifali
            Jul 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm
            Dear indian express.. i hope this comment goes to the ministry.. The bjp govt has taken some good initiatives like swatchch bharat abhiyan, swasth matratv ( safety for to be moms) etc. Its mandatory that they understand that Sanitary napkin is an essential for maintaining swachchta ( hygeine) and health of a woman. Besides periods sanitary napkins are also used immediately after a mother gives birth... for a duration of upto 1 month! Unhygienic conditions during periods or after delivery can lead to illness like infection or even worse... increasing the rate of deaths in moms as well as for the baby. I believe that like condomss sanitary napkin dispensers should be installed in public toilets and dispenseries, nursing homes etc So that every woman - rich or poor can afford it at lower prices. THAT would be a milestone development in the health department by any govtt so far.
            Reply
            1. V
              Viveka Chokhani
              Jul 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm
              Sanitary napkins are health care for fifty percent of our population so not being sarcastic we should try to make government understand n not for poor there r ed n orphan girl kids for their sake also govt should not only finish gst but reduce prize n makers of napkins start giving poly pack of different colour so the sag rigatoni will be easy thanks
              Reply
              1. K
                Kajal patra
                Jul 6, 2017 at 9:33 pm
                Don't punish me for being a women
                Reply
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                  vihari naidu
                  Jul 6, 2017 at 3:51 pm
                  This only shows the absence of women in Ministerial posts and bureaucracy. Old insensitive men who are far removed from Public taking these decisions. Sad and pathetic.
                  Reply
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