World

Australia to axe ‘tampon tax’ from January 1

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Australia on Wednesday announced plans to scrap a 10-per-cent tax on tampons and sanitary products from 2019, bowing to campaigners who have called the levy “sexist’’.

The country’s state and territory treasurers unanimously agreed to remove the goods and services tax (GST) on feminine hygiene products during a meeting with federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“Common-sense has prevailed and this reform is long overdue. The GST will be removed on feminine hygiene products from Jan. 1, 2019,’’ Frydenberg said in a statement.

A similar government proposal was rejected in 2015 because states and territories would lose some 30 million dollars (22 million U.S. dollars) in tax revenue.

Kelly O’Dwyer, Minister for Women’s Affairs, said efforts to remove the “unfair tax’’ have had a “tortured history’’.

“Millions of women right across the nation will be very thankful for it,’’ she told Sky News television.

Health advocates have lobbied to scrap the tax on sanitary products since it was introduced in 2001, noting that condoms, lubricants and Viagra are exempt from GST.

“The politicians have finally realised how much support in the community there has been to end the unfair and sexist tax,’’ Greens party senator Janet Rice told reporters.

Taxes on essential female hygiene products have become a contentious issue around the world, with most countries, including the United States, Britain, and Germany still taxing menstrual products.

Kenya was the first country in the world to eliminate a tax on sanitary items in 2004. (dpa/NAN)

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