After years of campaigning by activists and various organisations, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has announced that VAT on sanitary pads will be scrapped as of 1 April 2019.
Government will zero-rate sanitary pads, bread flour and cake flour as of 1 April 2019 following an independent panel of experts investigating options to mitigate the VAT increase on lower income households. #MTBPS2018 pic.twitter.com/oh1f3a6kmJ
— SA Gov News (@SAgovnews) October 24, 2018
Most recently, a panel looking at items to be included in the list of zero rated items- which are a list of items identified as being the most basic necessities for mainly the poor and thus no VAT is levied- recommended that VAT be scrapped for sanitary pads.
As organisation Amandla Mobi! stated in their petition to the Finance Minister ahead of the mid term budget speech:
“Research shows that the average person could spend up to almost R40,000 on sanitary pads in their lifetime. This in a country in which over 50% of the population live in poverty. The VAT hike from 14% to 15% has placed the burden of government meeting the annual revenue on the poor majority of this country, which consists of mostly women headed households.
Sanitary pads are not a luxury, they are an essential monthly product we cannot live without. Help us restore dignity through being able to afford our own periods.”
Minister Mboweni also announced that provinces will be given money to ensure distribution of free sanitary pads to poor school children who often miss school as a result of not having adequate or any sanitary towels at all.
The first country to scrap sales tax on sanitary wear was Kenya in 2004. In July of this year India announced the scrapping of the 12% tax on sanitary pads.
A great step for SA!