Sanitary napkins still costly due to new GST rates

Sanitary napkins still costly due to new GST rates

Mumbai,June27: It is now obvious that there are no signs of reduction in the taxes on sanitary napkins under Goods and Service Tax (GST). Pankaja Munde, minister for women and child welfare development, has intervened to help school-going girls.

She has instructed that the napkins be sold to schoolgirls at a subsidised rate of just Rs 5 per pack. The women’s self-help groups (SHGs) will be given this responsibility to sell these subsidised sanitary napkins to the schoolgirls. Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leaders raised this issue with the Union and state finance ministry and demanded exemption of sanitary napkins from GST.

Munde said the women and child welfare development department has introduced ‘Asmita,’ a scheme for school-going girls in which they will be provided with sanitary napkins on their school premises. “Asmita means pride and we want girls take care of themselves with pride during their menstruation days,” said Munde.

She added that, however, it is not possible for girls residing in villages to afford sanitary napkins and in that case it creates other complications like hygiene issues and her department is working towards resolving them.

“The price of sanitary napkins available in the market is more than Rs 40 and it was a challenge for us initially to make it affordable. The experience to use locally made sanitary napkins had failed due to the lack of quality standards and instead we decided to subsidise those already in the market,” said Munde.

The bidding to shortlist and enlist the manufacturers of sanitary napkins is under process. Once it is finalised, SHGs will approach them to procure the napkins. Munde said, “The department has identified such SHGs working in big villages that are in sound financial position and can afford to procure the sanitary napkins and sell it to the girls studying in standards 8 to 10. We will ensure that the price will not go beyond Rs. 4 to Rs. 5 per pack,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chitra Wagh, the state president of women’s wing of NCP, and Shalini Thackeray met state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and asked him to request Arun Jaitley, the Union finance minister, to exempt sanitary napkins from GST. Munde has also written a letter to Jaitley asking him to reconsider.