Sanitary napkins now exempt from GST; finance minister Piyush Goyal announces decision after council meeting

The Goods and Services (GST) Council on Saturday decided to exempt sanitary napkins from the year-old tax regime. Minister of Finance Piyush Goyal announced the decision after the 28th meeting of the GST Council.

A number of other items have been exempt from the GST, including wooden deities, marble and sal leaves, among others, Goyal said, adding that besides revenue collection, the GST Council will now focus on creating jobs, as well.

The decisions made on Saturday will be applicable from 27 July.

Currently, sanitary napkins are taxed under the GST regime's 12 percent slab, which attracted serious criticism from various quarters since the levy was announced. Besides exempting a number of items from the GST, the council also brought several other items to lower slabs.

Last year, the Delhi High Court had questioned the GST on sanitary napkins, asking, "If bindis, sindoor and kajal are kept out of the ambit of the GST, why cannot sanitary napkins, which are essential items, be exempted?"

The high court bench had said sanitary pads are a necessity, and there cannot be any explanation to tax them and exempt other items by listing them in the category of necessities. The court also expressed its displeasure over the absence of any women in the 31-member GST Council.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The government, in an official press release, said sanitary napkins, in pre-GST times, attracted concessional excise duty of 6 percent and 5 percent VAT and back then, the total tax on the product was 13.68 percent. This was why the council said it levied a 12 percent GST on sanitary napkins.

After the GST system was implemented in July last year, scores of activists had posted sanitary napkins to former finance minister Arun Jaitley's office and demanded an immediate withdrawal of GST on the women's hygiene product. Jaitley had called the debate over the GST on sanitary napkins "ill-informed" and said that the 12 percent GST rate was necessary as it safeguarded Indian manufacturers from foreign ones, according to The Indian Express.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi had also written to Jaitley last year, asking him to provide 100 percent tax exemption to eco-friendly and bio-degradable sanitary napkins under the GST.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jul 21, 2018 19:55 PM

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