Sri Lanka may cut high tax sanitary napkins after currency crisis pushes up price

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking at solutions to make sanitary napkins more affordable Trade Minister Nalin Fernando said as a currency crisis and tax hikes made them unaffordable to many vulnerable groups including school children.

Teachers unions have said school kids were staying away because they could no longer afford sanitary products.

Opposition legislator Rohini Kaviratne said total import taxes on sanitary napkins was 42 percent and prices have skyrocketed after the rupee collapsed.

With valued added tax increased to 15 percent from taxes would go up further, she said.

“Sanitary napkins are classified as a luxury product and taxed at high rates,” Kaviratne said. “This is not a luxury product.”

“The cost for one child is two to three measures of rice now. I ask that this be removed from the list of luxury taxes.”

Rice prices have almost doubled over the past year.

A 15 pack of sanitary napkins are now costs around 500 to 760 rupees.

Sri Lanka’s food prices have almost doubled over the last few months after the rupee collapsed from 182 to 360 to the US dollar reducing disposable incomes of families who wages have not gone up.

Minister Nalin Fernando said he had called a meeting of importers and domestic producers later in the day and will look at solutions including a tax cut.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said the school children in urban and rural setting were suffering. At the last Presidential election he made the high tax on sanitary pad an election issue.

“At the time the opposition made fun of me,” he said. “But now at least you see the problem. The opposition then make poured scorn over many thing we said and now the country is bankrupt.”

In order to block the central bank’s ability to print money and depreciate the rupee and push up inflation classical economists and analysts have called for strict laws to limit open market operations of the agency and curtail independence to print money through ‘flexible’ policies and stimulus. (Colombo/Sept20/2022)

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