By VENERANDA LANGA
FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube was last Thursday quizzed in the Senate over the issue of the removal of duty on sanitary wear for women and girls.
A packet of panty liners now costs between $3 and $7, depending on the manufacturer, which is beyond the reach of many poor urban and rural women.
Worried by the soaring costs of sanitary wear, Bulawayo Metropolitan senator Gideon Shoko (MDC Alliance) asked Ncube to explain why government was failing to ensure pads were imported duty-free.
“The Finance minister said sanitary wear will be duty-free, but what is happening in the country right now is that instead sanitary wear is very expensive and is not affordable to the women folk,” Shoko, who is a member of the HIV/Aids Parliamentary Thematic Committee, said.
In his 2019 budget statement, Ncube said he had considered the plight of women and girls to suspend duty on sanitary pads, as well as on raw materials used to manufacture sanitary wear.
His pronunciations were then followed by an amendment to Statutory Instrument 257 of 2003, wherein there was insertion of section 9GG after section 9FF of the regulations to effectively suspend duty on sanitary wear.
“A suspension of duty shall, for a period of 12 months (from 1st December 2018 to the 30th November 2019), be granted on sanitary (wear),” the regulations read.
But Ncube’s response in the Senate was that the prices of sanitary wear have been going up in the same manner as prices of other basic commodities.
“The relief that I gave was that sanitary wear must be duty-free. I suspect that you are speaking of the general price increases of goods that have also impacted on the prices of sanitary wear,” Ncube said.
“We are determined to ensure that there is growth of money supply and this has been shown by that inflation has dropped to 1, 7% in February from 17% in October last year. We want to improve competition and remove duty for manufacturing of sanitary wear, and going forward we will look into that,” Ncube said.