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South Africa to Scrap Tax on Sanitary Pads

The 15% tax on sanitary products will be done away with starting in April, says the country's Finance Minister.

South Africa's newly appointed Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, announced in a speech on Wednesday that the country will no longer tax sanitary products.

Starting in April, the 15 percent value-added tax on sanitary pads will be scrapped. Levies on bread flour and cake flour will also be done away with.

The Finance Minister, who was appointed just two weeks ago, revealed the plan before Parliament as part of a medium term budget policy, intended to outline government spending for the next three years, reports South Africa's Sunday Times. He said he reached out to people on social media ahead of the decision, where he garnered several responses.

"I received 3,299 tweets in total," BBC Africa quoted Mboweni as saying."One of them is from Tintsi Ngwenya in Johannesburg, who said: 'Sanitary pads should be tax free - after considerable debate and consultation, as of the 1 April 2019, government will zero-rate the following items: One, sanitary pads. Two, bread flour Three, cake flour."


The policy comes after public outcry that the high cost of sanitary products prevented young women, particularly those in rural parts of the country, from attending school. South African women spend an average of R600 ($42) yearly on sanitary products, according to a report from News 24.

In some areas, the provision of sanitary pads is completely free for female students, adds BBC Africa. We will ensure that female learners in schools have access to sanitary pads," said the Finance Minister later in his speech.

"Several provinces have already taken the lead in rolling out the provision of free sanitary pads in schools. Funds will be added to the provincial equitable share to enable provinces to progressively further this objective," he added.

Last August, Botswana announced that it would provide free sanitary pads for school-aged women across the country, and Kenya implemented a similar plan in June of last year.

Many are celebrating the scrapping of the tax, and are remaining optimistic that the next step will be the provision of free sanitary pads across the country.



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