A new form of protest was witnessed in Coimbatore when members of the Revolutionary Youth Front attempted to parcel sanitary napkins to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as a sign of agitation against the levying of 12 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on it.
The protesters claimed that the earlier tax was only five percent, but now 12 percent has been imposed.
One of the protesters said that it was a conspiracy reflecting Hindutva.
"It looks like a well-plotted conspiracy reflecting Hindutva. This is a very high price and violates women's rights," One of the protesters Kanmani said.
On July 18, the Delhi High Court had sought reply from the Finance Ministry by November 15 on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed on the imposition of 12 percent GST on sanitary napkins.
The PIL also sought to exempt goods like kajal, kumkum, bindis, sindur, alta, plastic, glass bangles, hearing aids, passenger baggage, puja samagri of all kinds and all types of contraceptives, including condoms; from the purview of taxation.
Earlier on Monday, the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Government of India, Delhi Government, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCDs) on the PIL filed to ensure availability of sanitary pads for free or at subsidized rates.
The court also directed to conduct workshops on menstrual hygiene for school girls.
The next date of the hearing is on November 7.
Meanwhile earlier, sanitary napkins attracted a GST of 12 percent, a shade lower than 13.7 per cent in the previous indirect tax regime.
Clarifying on the reports of tax incidence on sanitary napkins under GST, a finance ministry statement said, "The tax incidence on this item before and after GST is the same or less."
In pre-GST, they attracted concessional excise duty of 6 per cent and 5 per cent VAT.
The total tax incidence on sanitary napkins was 13.68 per cent after considering cesses.
"Therefore, 12 per cent GST rate had been provided for the sanitary napkin," it said.
Raw materials used for the manufacture of sanitary napkins attract GST of 12 per cent and 18 per cent.
If the GST rate on sanitary napkins was reduced to 5 per cent, it will further accentuate the tax inversion and result in even higher accumulated input tax credit (ITC), with correspondingly higher financial costs on account of fund blockage and associated administrative cost of refunds, putting domestic manufacturers at even greater disadvantage vis-a-vis imports.
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