Women’s Legal Centre welcomes decision to zero-rate sanitary pads

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced this during the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

Picture: Winnie Theletsane/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – The Women's Legal Centre has welcomed government's decision to zero-rate sanitary pads.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced this during the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

It will be effective from April next year.

Mboweni says the revenue loss associated with zero-rating these items is estimated at R1.2 billion but it targets low-income households and restores the dignity of people.

The centre's Seehaam Samaai says: “We actually want sanitary towels to be made available for free but it also means that the cost is reduced and that there’s no additional tax placed on women in relation to something that’s natural. And we believe that this is a step in the right direction to ensuring that sanitary towels are given for free to women."

Bread and cake flour will also be zero-rated.

But Congress of South African Trade Unions says this is not good enough as they had given government a longer list of items to be zero-rated.

The trade union's Malvern de Bruyn says: “In terms of petrol, they don’t put it clear on how we’re going to subsidise people, electricity is high, water is high. Those were some of the issues they should have made pronouncements on. As Cosatu, we’re unhappy about all those things as things keep going up.”

As from 1 April 2019, VAT will no longer be charged on these items.

'A LOT OF CONFIDENCE IN MBOWENI'

Some economists have expressed a sense of optimism after the finance minister delivered his policy statement.

During his maiden speech, Mboweni said he is committed to urgently fixing the mess at South African Revenue Service (Sars), clamping down on corruption and wasteful spending and to wooing the private sector to help get the economy back on track.

Mboweni also put some flesh on the bones of Ramaphosa's stimulus plan to kick-start the economy.

Nedbank economist Isaac Matshego says Mboweni's speech showed a clear commitment to stabilising government finances.

“It shows a very clear commitment to stabilising finances and stablising the South African Revenue Service. There is a lot of confidence in Minister Tito Mboweni, I think he is the right man to really take this position at this time.”

Investec economist Annabel Bishop says the budget will go a long way to lift business confidence and improve investment and economic growth.

“Going forward, the budget is quite strong, we are looking to lift business confidence and investment economic growth and [it] talks quite clearly to the need fix the corruption issues and the weakness itself that has resulted in the weakening of state institutions such as Sars."

READ: The full MTPBS

Speech by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)