Mthuli Ncube Urged To Review Sanitary Wear Prices In Supplementary Budget

SANITARY  Aid Zimbabwe Trust has implored Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube to at least address the astronomical prices for sanitary wear when he presents the Mid-Term Fiscal Review and Supplementary Budget.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

The organisation said since December last year, prices for sanitary pads have risen by 800 percent making the product more of a luxury than right.

Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe executive director Theresa Nyava said, “As Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust, we acknowledge that the 2019 National Budget scrapped VAT and customs duty on selected imported sanitary wear products through Statutory Instrument 264 of 2018 and Statutory Instrument 265 of 2018, respectively, in a move to “cushion underprivileged girls and wome.

“This intervention by Treasury was a step in the right direction as it acknowledged the importance of menstrual products in the day to day lives of women and girls who menstruate. However, we have observed that following the announcement of the above policy measures, from December 2018 until now, the price of sanitary wear has sharply increased by more than 800%,” said Sanitary Aid.

This increase happened at a time when inflation also rose to the current levels of 176%, while the
consumer basket also rose to $948. Because of these developments, the purpose of the scrapping
of VAT and duty on sanitary wear was not enjoyed by the intended beneficiaries, as they are
actually now failing more to access sanitary wear due to these high prices.

She added that there was need to subsidise sanitary wear.

“Having noted how the price of sanitary wear has sharply increased, we strongly recommend that
Government allocates a subsidy on the price of sanitary wear by bearing a portion of the price, as
a short term intervention.

“A good precedent for subsidizing things for public interest has already been set in the transport sector where, after realizing that many members of the public can no longer afford the rising fares for them to travel to work or school, government introduced subsidized buses where people pay as little as 50 cents. To ensure that the transmission mechanism of this subsidy is realized, sanitary wear should also be included in the list of monitored products and also in the consumer basket,”Nyava said.

She further recommend the price of sanitary wear to be fixed. Nyava also recommended free sanitary wear provision to the underprivileged, “As alluded to earlier, underprivileged women and girls who menstruate cannot afford to buy sanitary wear because they do not earn income and look up to the Government for support.

We therefore strongly recommend that government provides sustainable sanitary wear to the following
groups of women, informed by a thorough needs assessment: female prisoners, rural school girls,
female refugees, homeless girls and women, among others. Other sanitary products that should be provided include: underwear, bathing soap, pain relievers, buckets, among others.

Underprivileged women and girls cannot be held back from unlocking their full potential by the natural biological
process of menstruation,” she said.

She stressed the importance of supporting local sanitary wear industry.

“Honourable Minister, the local sanitary wear industry is currently operating at an average capacity
utilization of 15%, and incurring huge diseconomies of scale as a result. However, they still offer
the lowest price on the market, compared to imported substitutes. In light of the above, we urge
government to provide more support to local sanitary wear producers.

From our observation, our economy can save more foreign currency if we reduce the importation of finished sanitary wear by ensuring that local producers operate at full capacity.

This can also result in other socioeconomic benefits such as increased employment, more tax contribution to government, earning foreign currency through export of sanitary products, among other benefits,” said Nyava.

Nyava also wants the finance minister to look into raw materials acquisition as well as zero rating sanitary wear supplies.

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