The goods and service tax was implemented on July 1, 2017, and brought about a revolutionary change in the indirect tax slabs. According to Goods and Service Tax (GST), various products and services will be taxed in the tax bracket of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent and one such product that is being taxed at an alarming rate of 12% are sanitary napkins, and this has raised various controversies and debates in the society. However, under the new tax slabs after GST, condoms will be tax-free, and this system is confusing people a lot. Various women came forward and marched to make sanitary napkins tax free as well. However, the government has said that the tax rates were kept after taking into account the local manufacturers who will have an opportunity for earning more money. GST Myths Busted: Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia Explains GST Rates and 6 Other False News on Tax Reform.
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While this fact is appreciated, the idea that a necessity like sanitary pads are heavily taxed at 12% while various other industries walk tax-free is making people question the state of women in our country. India already has a lot of issues when it comes to sanitary napkins as only 12% of the population has actually been using this hygienic method of getting through the monthly menstrual cycle. The government is already struggling to make sanitary napkins readily available for the larger population of women in rural areas who still lean back on various unhygienic products like cloth piece, leaves and other things that have been recognised as a leading cause of various infections. Another rather shocking thing that is being introduced is a lower tax rate on cigarettes that are being introduced under the GST regime. According to latest news reports, excise duty on cigarettes has been removed making it fall under the taxing scheme of 7-9 %. GST Effect: Jokes and Memes on Goods & Service Tax take over WhatsApp, Facebook & Twitter. Also Read - Swiggy, Zomato Will Now Pay GST on Restaurant Services Supplied Through Them, Says Sitharaman
Meanwhile, despite signing petitions and sitting on hunger strikes, women are yet to find some concession in the rates of sanitary pads. This strange combination can also be seen in the case of hair and hair products. While hair and wastage of hair are kept tax free, shampoos, conditioners and other grooming products will be charged at 28%. Hair and wastage of hair are used in making wigs, and the market for the sale of hair is worth crores that are levied off the burden of GST. While women are paying a higher tax rate for their sanitary napkins, condoms have been kept tax free. Other tax-free products under GST is Sindoor or vermillion which is widely used in a Hindu household. Also Read - Central Govt Panel Plans to Bring Petrol, Diesel Under GST: Report
A petition to remove the tax imposed on sanitary napkins has been started which has already received 304,533 supporters. In addition to this, there were various demonstrations to ask for a better pricing on sanitary napkins, which will make it more easily accessible in the country. Even before GST, an estimated 70% of Indian women cannot afford sanitary napkins, and people are hoping that the government comes up with a better-suited plan to make the necessary product much more inexpensive and help in spreading the reach of sanitary napkins in India.