After year-long opposition, sanitary napkins exempted from GST

New Delhi: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday said the Centre has decided to exempt sanitary napkins from the Goods and Services Tax, ANI reported. The decision was taken at the 28th meeting of the GST Council in New Delhi.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 28th GST Council meeting, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that tax on bamboo also has been slashed to 12%.

The council has removed many items from the 28% tax slab, Sisodia said. “I think the 28% tax slab should be done away with,” he told reporters after the meeting. “The issue is being unnecessarily dragged.”

Sanitary pads were placed in the 12% tax slab when the GST was implemented on July 1, 2017, though several other products such as sindoor (vermilion) and bangles were declared tax-free. This move was severely criticised, with activists and non-governmental organisations pointing out that only 12% of menstruating women in India could afford sanitary napkins.

This would mean there would be no input tax credit available, even though inputs in the production of sanitary napkins are taxed.

It is expected that the council would decide on revision of tax rates on vending machines and lithium ion batteries among others.

In July 2017, the Ministry of Finance had said that the tax on sanitary napkins under the Goods and Services Tax was lesser than before. The ministry said the napkins were taxed 13.68% before the GST was implemented because of a concessional excise duty and a value-added tax.

“Centre displayed extreme arrogance by not exempting sanitary napkins from GST over past one year!” Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal said on Twitter. “Glad that finally GST Council has made this happen. When bindis and sindoor can be exempt from tax, why not pads – lack of which cause terrible suffering to girls and women.”