By Alex Malanga
Dodoma — The government is reconsidering its decision to scrap Value Added Tax (VAT) on sanitary pads and think of another option, a minister said on Tuesday, April 23, in Parliament.
Tabling the financial year 2018/19 national budget proposal, the minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, proposed for exemption of VAT on the product.
The tax exemption, which took effect on July 1, 2018 was meant to enable women, especially school girls, access the sanitary towels at affordable prices.
However, speaking during the question and answer session today, Finance and Planning deputy minister Ashatu Kijaji said they have established that the exemption of VAT was only benefiting traders and not women.
She was reacting to a supplementary question by Special Seats Member of Parliament Swale Semesi who sought to know the government’s plan to ensure sanitary pads were sold at a low price.
“Sanitary towels are still highly priced despite the tax relief granted on such products in the current financial year. What is the government’s position over the matter?” Dr Semesi asked.
Dr Kijaji said the government was looking for the best option, which would see a relief to women and have positive impact to the government.
She said the government was borrowing a leaf from South Africa, Botswana and Kenya, who took the same measures (VAT exemption).
The deputy minister added that the steps did not yield positive results to the above mentioned countries.
“I admit that there are reported complaints that women still feel the pinch of the item’s high price. We are thinking of the best measures that will have positive impact to both women and government,” said Dr Kijaji.
In her principal question, Special Seats lawmaker Upendo Peneza (Chadema) sought to know the revenue collection in VAT on sanitary towels during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years.
Responding, Dr Kijaji said some Sh2.5 billion was collected in 2017/18 compared to Sh3 billion in the previous year.