A private member’s bill proposing an amendment to remove the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on menstrual hygiene products sponsored by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Madina, Francis-Xavier Sosu has received support from some group of Civil Society Organisations.
The bill by the Madina MP seeks an amendment of the Customs Tariffs and Levies to remove the 15% VAT Act, 2022 (Act 1082), to reclassify menstrual hygiene products from final consumer goods to zero-rated essential social goods.
The legislature providing the rationale behind the bill said, globally many women and girls faced challenges in managing their menstruation.
Mr. Sosu explained that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) was defined as the practice of using clean materials to absorb menstrual blood that can be changed privately, safely, hygienically and as often as needed for the duration of the menstrual cycle.
In his view, often, the failure to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls could have far-reaching consequences for basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health, ultimately affecting the country’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals one, three, four, five, six and 10.
“Despite the fact that about a quarter of the world’s population menstruates, 500 million people have been left without access to menstrual hygiene products, leading to period poverty. Period poverty, thus refers to the struggle to afford menstrual products, and the increased economic vulnerability menstruating people face due to the financial burden posed by menstrual supplies,
He added, “Imposing taxes on sanitation pads which is as a result of their menstrual cycle which is a natural phenomenon is unfair, discriminatory and violates both national law (Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution) and various international laws and treaties such as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Articles 24(1) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on Rights of Children, and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, among others.”
Spokesperson for the group, Ama Pratt reacting to the news in an interview on Citi FM said, “Not only is it in line with what we are asking for. He takes it a step further, and he wants to do it in a way that not only does it apply to this administration but all future administrations, so nobody can try this again. And definitely, that is what we have been yearning for. All of these advocacies are just so that these taxes go away. These are commitments. In this country, we talk a lot, and we sometimes get the wrong things done.”
Earlier the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin had criticized government for failing to withdraw the taxes on sanitary pads in the mid-year budget review.
“On the issue of sanitary pads, the government should rethink about it. Because the taxes are not only imported ones, even the locally produced ones are taxed. The businesses met me two days ago, [and told me that] even the raw materials are taxed. They were complaining about production, to the extent that some of them folded up. This is something that I take seriously. Don’t let us miss the point, I will not tax a woman, my mother for producing me. I don’t support that at all, so the state must take this matter seriously.”
“There are countries where it is for free, there are countries where a lot of taxes have been removed. That is an issue I’m very passionate about, to all governments that will come, we can do without it. How much do we make from this taxation? We like taxing the poor, we are not taxing the rich”.