Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Seth Twum Akwaboah, has emphasised that scrapping taxes on sanitary products alone is not enough to address the issue of affordability and accessibility.
He said a more sustainable and sensible solution is for government to remove taxes on imports of raw materials for local production of sanitary pads, which will not only bring prices down but also boost domestic production, create jobs and contribute to economic development.
Mr. Akwaboah highlighted the availability of reasonable domestic capacity to meet demand, but added that most local producers of sanitary products are already struggling due to the influx of cheaper imports. He therefore warned that scrapping taxes on imported products could completely wipe out local producers.
He argued that any intervention that aims to make sanitary products affordable should prioritise local production, particularly subsidies on import of raw material and tax exemptions. Anything less than this, he added, will be counterproductive and detrimental to the economy.
Mr. Akwaboah, who spoke at a stakeholder dialogue organised by Plan International Ghana Alumni Network, therefore called for a comprehensive approach that includes both tax exemptions and subsidies on raw materials. By providing subsidies, government, he said, will support local manufacturers to produce more at lower costs. This in turn will make sanitary products more affordable for consumers, especially those in rural areas who may be already facing difficulties in accessing these essential products.
His comment highlights the need for a collaborative effort between industry players, advocacy groups and government bodies to find sustainable solutions.
It is hoped that through open and constructive dialogue, stakeholders can reach a common understanding and potentially build consensus on the way forward. By addressing not only taxes but also subsidies on raw materials, among other things, the stakeholders can work toward making sanitary products more affordable and accessible – ultimately contributing to the overall development and well-being of girls and women in Ghana.
For her part, Manager in charge of Finance, Administration at Fay International Limited, Gifty Debrah said: “What the government should do for us is at least, take off VAT on the products, because right now we are producing at a loss. We have cut down production just to sustain the industry”.
The purpose of the dialogue was to reach a common understanding and possibly build consensus between advocates and sanitary pad industry players on how to make sanitary products affordable and easily accessible to rural and average Ghanaian girls as well as ensure that the local sanitary manufacturing industry is sustained.
It was suggested that the government distributes sanitary pads as part of the Free Senior High School programme to girls in the various schools while ensuring that local manufacturers are properly equipped to help in large production of these products.
Meanwhile, a bill to remove the 15 percent tax on sanitary pads has been presented to Parliament. It seeks to scrap the 20 percent luxury tax and the 15 percent vat on sanitary pads.