BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi: Pay taxes on sanitary pads to help needy

May 29, 2018, 08:02 IST | IANS

The panel was chaired and moderated by Poonam Muttreja, the Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), which has been at the forefront of policy advocacy and research on gender, population, health and development issues in India

Bollywood actress and activist Shabana Azmi and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi during an event, in New Delhi on Monday, May 28, 2018. Pic/PTI
Bollywood actress and activist Shabana Azmi and BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi during an event, in New Delhi on Monday, May 28, 2018. Pic/PTI

BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who was part of a panel discussion on "Loss Fertility in Females" at the inaugural Menstrual Awareness Conclave, says that those who can pay 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on sanitary pads can actually help those who need them the most.

The panel was chaired and moderated by Poonam Muttreja, the Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), which has been at the forefront of policy advocacy and research on gender, population, health and development issues in India.

When Muttreja asked Lekhi about the 12 per cent GST on sanitary pads and how will this benefit the ones who are not that well-off, the BJP MP said: "So my answers is going to be two-fold . First is by asking what is the objective? If the objective is that the maximum number of women should have access to hygiene than don't ask for waiving off (of GST).

"Pay the taxes so that the money can be utilized for the ones who need the most. Women sitting in this hall are the ones who can afford to pay 12 or 18 percent GST."

Lekhi added: "Now the issue is one who cannot pay... what are we doing for them? We are producing low cost organic pads and very good hygienic management. Such kind of initiatives which are decentralized are active all across the country.

"They are run by self-help groups of women, they are tax-free because they are using local raw material, their production is not so high and they deal with the issues locally and in scientific format." Lekhi also added that when somebody asks for GST free sanitary pads "than you are benefitting the Chinese import of plastic polymer and that's what any thinking audience or person will not allow".

The BJP leader was the part of a panel at Niine Movement's "Menstrual Awareness Conclave" to mark International Menstrual Hygiene Day on Monday. Other members of the panel were Bollywood actor and activist Shabana Azmi, WaterAid India's Director Programme and Policy Avinash Kumar, UN India MCO Deputy Representative Nishtha Satyam, and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India President Jaideep Malhotra.

The Niine movement, an ambitious five-year plan aimed at raising awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene and tackling the taboos associated with menstruation, has been officially launched at the inaugural conclave to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day. Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar was the chief guest at the event and felicitated nine people who were doing their bit to create awareness about menstruation hygiene in different parts of India.

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