Beyond a legal recognition of sanitary napkins as a necessity, these movements have been fighting for access to better menstrual health more than anything.
This is the fourth time since the roll out of the GST that the Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister and comprising state counterparts, has rationalised rates.
"Every state wanted that the rates on these items be lowered so that the middle income households are benefitted ..." In its last meeting, the Council had approved the basic principles of GST return design and directed the law committee to finalise the return formats and changes in law. He was given the additional charge of the Finance Ministry after Arun Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS for a kidney transplant. Thank you, #GSTCouncil, for understanding the need for menstrual hygiene & exempting sanitary pads from tax.
The new tax rates will come into effect from July 27.
The official, however, said that the revenue loss would be only notional as increased consumption and compliance would lead to more revenues to the exchequer.
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So when the government branded tampons and sanitary pads a luxury item, with a 12% tax, it sparked an immediate campaign to get the measure revoked, including court challenges and petitions - one of which got more than 400,000 signatures. For a sanitary pad manufacturer, for example, that would mean paying tax while buying the raw materials, and then paying tax again when selling the product. Twinkle was the first one from Bollywood to hail this move. Four out of five women and girls are estimated to have no access to sanitary pads.
SheSays India, a Mumbai-based NGO that works to promote gender equality and women's rights, has been hammering at the government's doors on this issue since as far back as 2016.
Earlier this year, Akshay narrated the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who introduced the low-priced sanitary napkins in India, in "Pad Man".
Deloitte India Partner M S Mani said it would be logical to expect that once the GST collections after the recent reductions stabilise, the remaining items such as televisions of all sizes, dishwashers, digital cameras, air conditioners could be considered for an 18 per cent rate.
The drop in prices is so negligible that it would hardly make any difference for women who stay away from sanitary products due to their costs.