Policy to guide provision of sanitary products

The National Treasury says the question of how sanitary products will be funded will be guided by a recently-developed policy framework document.

Yanga Mputa, a Chief Director at the National Treasury’s Tax Policy Unit, said this when briefing the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus at the Old Assembly Chamber on Thursday.

The National Treasury appeared before the Caucus amid mounting calls to have sanitary towels to be exempt from VAT. This is due to concerns that a tax on sanitary products is unfair, it impacts negatively in the cost, which makes them unaffordable to women, especially those from poor backgrounds.

The National Treasury, on the other hand, has since taken a stance that it would rather support that the provision of sanitary products be done from the expenditure side through budget reprioritisation.

On Thursday, Mputa said after the Department of Women hosted a stakeholder meeting and a workshop in July, it went on to develop a policy framework aimed at informing government’s response to the calls.

Cabinet then approved the publishing of the policy framework for public comment on 18 October 2017.

After KwaZulu-Natal took the initiative of distributing sanitary products to school children for free, other provinces have since followed suit.

What is [being presented] is initiatives taken by provinces to provide sanitary towels they have reprioritised some of the money from their budgeting systems to assist with this but now when the policy framework is in place, the prioritisation will be based on the policy framework, she said.

Dr Kay Brow, a Chief Director from the National Treasury’s Budget Planning unit, said the National Treasury supported initiatives aimed at providing free sanitary products to school girls.

There are already allocations specifically from provincial budgets that are going towards the provision of sanitary products.

The National Treasury is part of an inter-departmental task team, led by the Department of Women, which is tasked with coming up and with implementing a policy response to the issue.

According to information provided by provinces on some of the initiatives on sanitary dignity � often done in conjunction with other social relief programmes � Gauteng has allocated R58 million towards sanitary products and other hygiene products, while KwaZulu-Natal has allocated R20 million.

The Free State, North West and Eastern Cape have contributed R6 million, R2.2 million and R1.2 million, respectively.

Source: South African Government News Agency