THE government has clarified that it’s not its responsibility to set indicative price for sanitary towels, arguing that the product is not in the category of public goods or services.
Industry and Trade Minister Joseph Kakunda revealed in a recent interview with the ‘Daily News’ that the government has already removed Value Added Tax (VAT) to reduce the prices of the essential items for particularly girls.
He was responding to various stakeholders who pleaded with the government to set indicative prices for the product. Despite the government exempting the towels from VAT, their prices remain high, leading to public complaints and outcries.
The minister said the government is only responsible for setting indicative prices for public products and services like agricultural produce, education and health services.
“It is difficult for the government to set indicative price for the sanitary pads because some are imported and traders are free to arrange the prices according to grades and kinds of the sanitary towel,” he said, adding that so far the government, through Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and Fair Competition Commission (FCC), is ensuring that imported sanitary pads meet the standards and are not counterfeit in order to protect the health of consumers.
Special Seat MP on Chadema ticket Upendo Peneza appreciated the government efforts to remove VAT on sanitary pads but asked the authority to set indicative prices for the products to enable consumers to access them fairly and affordably.
“It is a good step by the government to remove VAT on sanitary pads but their prices remain high.
I advise the government to set indicative prices for the products and look at the possibility of distributing the sanitary towels to schools free of charge,” she said.
According to studies conducted by the government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 2015, about 48 per cent of school girls miss classes during menstruation and 12 per cent of them do not attend school during their periods.
Recently, in Dar es Salaam, the Sanitation Hygiene Specialist and Senior Facilitator Menstrual Management from FID organisation Dhahia Mbaga said studies have discovered that 91 per cent of shops in rural areas don’t sell menstrual pads and affordability remains the biggest challenge.