Treasury turns down pleas for VAT exemption on sanitary towels

sanitary pads and tampons
sanitary pads and tampons
Image: STOCK

Marle van Niekerk‚ the director for economic tax analysis at the Treasury‚ on Thursday told Parliament's Multi-Party Women's Caucus that an inter-departmental task team had proposed that tax exemption on sanitary towels be put on hold because of budgetary constraints.

MPs have been lobbying for a VAT exemption on sanitary towels for more than a year following growing concerns that many young girls were missing school time during their menstrual cycle.

But Van Niekerk said the Treasury's view was that the focus would now shift to providing sanitary towels free to girl children and indigent women through the existing budgets of several government departments.

This way‚ national and provincial governments will have to provide the necessary funding by reprioritising budget allocations.

"We've taken up the challenge to see how we can effect this policy aim within the budgetary constraints that we have. We don't think of it as an excuse not to do anything so we've taken up that challenge and this is our effort to give effect to what we view as priority policy‚" she said.

Yanga Mputa‚ chief director of the tax policy unit‚ said sanitary products would be provided to those who cannot afford them through these programmes and that the reach could be "broadened when we are fiscally better".

Mputa said cabinet had in October approved the policy framework on sanitary dignity.

The policy made similar recommendations‚ Parliament heard.

But members of the committee were unhappy with the plan and its slow progress.

"This is not addressing our concerns‚ not at all. This style of dilly-dallying and referring from pillar to post... I don't think it's good governance‚" said chairperson of the committee Masefele Morutoa.

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