New Delhi, Mar 8: On International Women's Day on Tuesday, the Congress urged the central government to abolish tax on sanitary napkins and keep it out of the purview of the proposed Goods and Services Tax.
Congress leader and Silchar MP Sushmita Dev, in a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has said that sanitary napkins are "unfairly taxed" by deeming it as a luxury product and not as a necessity to safeguard health. She has said that the product is taxed up to 14.5 per cent based on the state one lives in and after the the GST it will be taxed at 12 per cent.
"We would request Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to consider our party MP Sushmita Dev's proposal. The Congress party fully endorses what she has requested," Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi told reporters. She said that although the matter seems insignificant in appearance it will address the key issues of affordability, hygiene and environment. She said more and more women, especially in rural areas, should be encouraged to use sanitary napkins and by taxing them one ends up reducing that space for them.
In her letter to Jaitley, Dev said condoms and contraceptives are tax-free in India as they are recognised as a necessity to safeguard health and life. "In the light of this observation, we need to view sanitary napkins through the same lens and ensure that women are not taxed unfairly on virtue of a natural bodily process.
"The commodity is not an option but a necessity, hence I hope you will look into this matter and do the needful," Dev said. She also called for adopting an innovative approach by granting environment friendly and reusable cloth sanitary napkins tax free and imposing a minimal tax on disposable sanitary napkins to dissuade its use on large scale in order to safeguard environment.
Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi greeted women on the occasion of International Women's Day and wished for their bright future. In a statement, she said the woman force has always contributed positively for India's progress. "It is now our collective responsibility to create a society free from any fears and ensure their self-reliance," Gandhi said.