Tax-Free Wings: Odisha CM & Activists Hail Decision To Exempt Sanitary Napkins From GST

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Bhubaneswar: Applauding the Centre’s decision to exempt sanitary napkins from Good and Services Tax (GST), Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik on Sunday tweeted that the step will benefit ‘Khushi’ programme that was launched in Odisha in February this year.

Social activist Linkan Subudhi said menstruation is one of the leading factors for school dropouts in rural areas. “This is a brilliant step and I would thank all those women who protested against the taxation for about a year,” she added.

More than a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods, as they lack access to toilets or pads, and many receive no education about menstruation before reaching puberty, according to a recent report by charity WaterAid and UNICEF.

Under the Khushi programme of Odisha government, free sanitary napkins are being distributed among school-going girls in villages. Linkan said it will benefit all the girls in rural areas. “It will now be easier to provide them this basic necessity,” she further said.

Addressing the media on Saturday, Union Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said that it’s a moment of joy for mothers and sisters. “I am sure all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 percent exempted from taxation,” he said.

The decision will be applicable from July 27, he added.

Sanitary pads were taxed at 12 percent under GST introduced in July 2017, which triggered protests, petitions and court cases. Lawmaker Sushmita Dev had filed a petition, which gained more than 4,00,000 signatures, demanding a reduction or total removal of tax on pads.

Appreciating the efforts, activist Namrata Chadda said it is a welcome decision. “I am glad that the Centre heard the pleas of so many,” she said.

The Khushi programme would get lot easier, she added.

“However, I hope these pads are not misused because no matter what, environment is being damaged. The government recently said that there will be a complete ban on single use plastic, so I expect similar changes in the pads being given to girls,” she said.

She further said that the industrialists must look for an alternative so as to protect the environment from these non-biodegradable waste.

What also triggered the step was Akshay Kumar’s movie ‘Padman’ which focused on menstrual hygiene. He has been at the forefront of a campaign by Nine Movement, an initiative promoting menstrual hygiene to help increase the number of women using pads.

Akshay also tweeted his joy of pads being exempted from GST.

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