Lalitpur [Nepal]: A street drama, flash mob and display of banners and placards raising voice against the imposition of luxury tax; shooting the price of menstrual products and tampons are back in Nepal. Youth activists of Nepal have again resorted to peaceful protest after a pause of a few months as the government commit to make efforts to bring the price of pads and tampons down.
“Though they said that no additional taxes have been imposed on but there has been no action about it so we are back on the streets,” Anisha Jha, one of the demonstrators here said on Friday. “This is huge discrimination to all the women who bleed. Government should not actually impose any tax because menstruation products are not luxury, we are not using it as luxury items but it is an essential item that every bleeding people, not only just women but every individual who bleeds needs this,” Priyanka Budhathoki, one of the producers of podcast series “Talks About Periods” told ANI.
“So, therefore we are here today to tell our government that it is complete crap, everything they are doing by imposing all these taxes on menstruating people is actually very wrong,” she added.
Protest against the imposition of tax had started in Nepal right after the House of Representatives approved a replacement bill amending the annual budget plan of 2021/22. The new approval subsequently increased the price of sanitary pads in the market, creating a hullaballoo on social media and the country.
This ultimately pushed campaigners to hit the streets urging the government to remove pads and tampons from the list of luxury items and asking for tax rebates. Though the government stated that it had no role in the hike in prices.
The Ministry of Finance on September 24 last year issued a release stating that some people were spreading fake news and attacking the government without doing due research. But it subsequently accepted that a 15 per cent customs tax has been imposed on sanitary pads since the fiscal year 2012-13.
A 10 per cent tax is imposed on raw materials used to make them in Nepal. But, the budget ordinance brought on May 29 changed it to 5 per cent as the government wanted more businesses to make sanitary pads in Nepal instead of importing them. Regarding the allegation made by businesses, the ministry stated that it has not increased any form of tax on sanitary pads.
The demonstrators had waited for the government to make efforts to reduce the price of the menstrual products which is yet to be brought into practice.
Even though the government has not increased the taxes, it still imposes a 13 per cent Value-Added Tax (VAT) on the products that are imported from abroad as well as produced within the country.
As per the statistics of the Department of Customs, a total of 1.73 million Kilograms of Sanitary pads worth 1.05 billion Nepali rupees were imported in the fiscal year of 2020/21. The government pocketed a total of Nrs. 300 million in taxes.