Namibian Gov’t removes tax for sanitary pads


Namibian Gov't removes tax for sanitary pads

The Namibian Government has abolished taxation of sanitary pads.

Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi announced that the directive would take effect in the 2022/23 financial year.

“I wish to announce this to enhance affordability by the girl child,” he said as quoted by the The Namibian newspaper. “I urge suppliers and retailers to pass on this relief to consumers once enacted.”

The removal of the tax on sanitary pads comes after Information Deputy Minister Emma Theofelus moved a motion to this effect in Parliament this year.

According to The Namibian, the announcement was unexpected following reluctance by Swapo parliamentarians to deliberate on the matter when Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani introduced a similar motion in 2016.

In 2017, Kenya promised free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls to encourage them to go to school during their periods, rather than stay at home with rags or tissues stuffed in their underwear.

“We are treating the access to sanitary pads as a basic human right,” the then government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We are improving the sanitation and healthcare of our schoolgirls, which will boost their class attendance.”

However, there have been reports across the country that school girls are still unable to access sanitary pads.

In 2019, Citizen TV reported that despite a budgetary allocation of Ksh. 470million in the 2017/2018 budget, some schools were yet to receive sanitary pads.

And in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of access to pads was exacerbated when schools were closed and children stayed home for months.

Tanzania reintroduced value added tax on sanitary products in 2019 after research showed that the directive had not helped to lower consumer prices in the domestic market.

“Instead of the anticipated outcome, domestic factories reduced production due to the tax factor, resulting in job losses,” Dr Kijaji said as quoted by The East African.

In November last year, Scotland became the first country in the world to allow free and universal access to menstrual products in a landmark victory for the global movement against period poverty.

The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Period Products bill on Tuesday, months after lawmakers had initially signaled their support.

It means period products will be available to access in public buildings including schools and universities across Scotland.

According to the new rules, it will be up to local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of charge.

The United Kingdom abolished the 5% VAT on menstrual products, known as the tampon tax on January 3, 2021.

The UK government said the change was made possible by the end of the Brexit transition period, and freedom from an EU law that mandates VAT on sanitary products.

Campaigners had been calling for the end of the tax, labeled “sexist” and “outdated,” for years.

“It’s been a long road to reach this point, but at last the sexist tax that saw sanitary products classed as non-essential, luxury items can be consigned to the history books,” Felicia Willow Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, the UK’s oldest charity campaigning for women’s rights and gender equality.

Additional report from The Namibian and CNN

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