Some CSO members after the press briefing. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Some CSO members after the press briefing. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

CSOs urge government to scrap taxes on sanitary pads

The government must take immediate steps to scrap taxes on sanitary pads in the 2024 Budget and Economic Policy statement to be presented to Parliament tomorrow, the Civil Society Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has advocated.

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The organisation argued that the taxes, made up of 20 per cent import tax and 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), had translated to a higher cost for the necessity from an average of GH¢7 to the current average cost of GH¢30 which was beyond the reach of many young girls and women.

It was also affecting their learning hours, health and personal hygiene, the platform maintained.

“So, a Ghanaian woman or girl may require more than one sanitary pad depending on her flow per period cycle.

The minimum cost of one pack of the pad, GH¢20, is higher than the current National Minimum wage of GH¢14.88” the civil society organisations (CSOs) emphasised.

A youth advocate, Angel Cudjoe, articulated the demands of the CSOs at a press conference in Accra yesterday.

The event was to drum home the need for government to bring finality to the issue of scrapping taxes on sanitary pads as the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, prepares to lay the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government before Parliament tomorrow.

The platform of 115 CSOs started the campaign in May this year, with the expectation that the 2024 Budget Statement would scrap the taxes.

Harmonised system

It said under “the harmonised system code 9619001000, sanitary pads were classified as miscellaneous manufactured articles which subjected them to a myriad of taxes including import and statutory levies”.

The platform further indicated that it meant that under the current tax regime, taxes were imposed on a biological necessity that women had no control over, thereby, making sanitary pads unaffordable and inaccessible, especially to low-income households.

“The cascading effect of this situation on girls’ lives are dire influencing their ability to participate in formal economy to improve their livelihoods and thus widen the gender and income inequalities,” it stated.

Subsidise prices

It said additionally, government should develop an initiative, in collaboration with development partners and private entities, to subsidise the cost of sanitary pads whether locally manufactured or imported just as it was being done for condoms.

“Funding should be increased for functional Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in schools throughout the country,” the platform added.

It urged the government to ensure a 10 per cent increase in budgetary allocation to all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to enable them to provide separate WASH facilities for boys and girls that met the WASH standards for all schools in the country.

The platform further called for the introduction of tax reliefs for local manufacturers to produce at minimum costs to ensure affordability of the product on the local market.

It further stressed the need for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to re-classify raw materials used in producing sanitary pads as medical devices and not under miscellaneous to avoid attracting taxes.

The platform called on the ministries of Finance, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection to ensure that the demands were implemented because other African countries, such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda, had put in place various measures to make the product affordable for women and girls.

Action

A member of the platform, Archibald Adams, said if their demands were not met after the budget was read, a team had been put in place to review and analyse the budget again and advise the organisation accordingly.

He said the organisation would go back to the drawing board and further engage Parliament and other stakeholders on the matter to ensure that the right thing was done.

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