A BJP MLA from Madhya Pradesh has urged Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to roll back the 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on sanitary napkins, in the interest of women’s menstrual hygiene. The legislator, Parul Sahu, said she wrote a letter to the finance minister two days back after talking to working women, young students and social workers over the issue. “In our country, majority of the rural women cannot afford the regular use of sanitary napkins. The 12 per cent tax on sanitary pads will make the scenario worse in rural and semi-urban areas,” Sahu said in the letter.
The MLA from Surkhi constituency in MP’s Sagar district is hopeful that the Central government will consider her request. “I personally feel that the government is taking initiatives to promote the use of sanitary napkins in order to ensure better health and hygiene for women across India,” Sahu said in the letter. “I, therefore, have full confidence that you (the finance minister) will definitely review the decision and withdraw the tax on sanitary napkins,” she said.
Earlier, Bollywood celebrities like Konkona Sen Sharma and Ekta Kapoor had also spoken out against the GST levied on sanitary napkins. Under the new taxation system, the sanitary napkins will attract a GST of 12 per cent, a shade lower than 13.7 per cent in the previous indirect tax regime. Clarifying on reports of tax incidence on sanitary napkins under GST, a finance ministry statement earlier said, “The tax incidence on this item before and after GST is the same or less.”
In pre-GST, the item attracted a concessional Excise duty of 6 per cent and 5 per cent VAT. The total tax incidence on sanitary napkins was 13.68 per cent after considering cesses. “Therefore, 12 per cent GST rate has been provided for the sanitary napkins,” it said.