Menstrual Hygiene Day: Advocata Institute recommends tariff removal for sanitary napkins

May, 28, 2020

The Advocata Institute recommends that the government removes the tax levied on menstrual hygiene products for women, this Menstrual Hygiene Day. The female population in Sri Lanka is 52% of the total population, with approximately 4.2 million menstruating women. However, for many Sri Lankan women, access to safe and affordable menstrual hygiene products has become a luxury. A main contributor to the unaffordability of menstrual hygiene products in Sri Lanka is the taxes levied on imported menstrual hygiene products. The Advocata Institute explores this issue in depth in a newly released policy brief, which can be found on their website www.advocata.org.

Sanitary napkins and tampons are taxed under the HS code HS 96190010. The import tariff levied on these products is 52%, and until September 2018, the tax on sanitary napkins was 101.2%. The components of this structure were Gen Duty (30%) + VAT (15%) + PAL (7.5%) + NBT (2%) and CESS (30% or Rs.300/kg).

The removal of this significant barrier to girls' education, women’s health and labour force participation will create a wide-scale positive impact on closing Sri Lanka’s present gender gap and facilitate more inclusive economic growth.

Key Recommendations

In light of the continued unaffordability of menstrual hygiene products for women in Sri Lanka, the Advocata Institute proposes the following policy recommendations:

  • The Ministry of Finance should remove PAL (10%) and General Duty (30%) components from the current taxation structure pertaining to essential menstrual hygiene products in Sri Lanka, bringing the total tax levied on these products down to 8%.
  • The Ministry of Finance should declare the reduction in taxes through the means of an extraordinary gazette.

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