By Our Reporter
KAMPALA: Opposition female Members of Parliament have called for the reversal of the VAT imposed on diapers under the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023, passed by Parliament last week.
The House rejected a proposal to exempt the payment of taxes on adult diapers and instead approved a tax on diapers across the board, despite a minority report from the Opposition.
Diapers have been VAT exempt in the past years, and now the government proposes to raise Shs2.6 billion from the tax measure.
While addressing a press conference at parliament on Wednesday, the MPs, including Mityana District Woman MP Hon. Joyce Bagala, Kiboga District Woman MP Hon. Christine Kaaya Nakimwero, Luwero District Woman MP Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, Hon. Teddy Nambooze Woman MP representing Mpigi District, and Anna Adeke, Soroti District Woman MP, all raised concern over the negative implications of the tax on the productivity of mothers, the hygiene of babies, and the elderly.
The MPs asked that diapers also be VAT-zero-rated under the laws of Uganda so that consumers do not pay taxes for them.
According to the Shadow Minister for Information and Anti-Corruption, Hon. Joyce Bagala, imposing taxes on diapers will adversely affect mothers’ productive time, reducing household incomes and ultimately national revenue.
“While the government proposal to impose a tax increment on diapers is intended to increase revenue, the country stands to lose if the productive time of mothers is wasted in washing reusable diapers,” said Bagala.
Bagala said that adult diapers improve their quality of life and make it possible for some of them to continue doing productive work.
“It is important to note that many of these senior citizens are retired and lack daily income streams to meet some of their needs.” “Taxing adult diapers will worsen the health conditions of older persons arising from improperly handled reusable nappies,” she added.
Hon. Christine Kaaya Nakimwero, the Shadow Minister for Water and Environment, asked for a plan for proper waste management of diapers instead of reducing the use of the product.
“We cannot go back to using nappies… This is an era where we are trying to promote labor-saving equipment, including diapers. If we reduce the taxes on diapers, this means more women will be able to afford them and reduce time spent on unpaid domestic work. We want mothers to use diapers and be able to save some time for engagement in economic activities,” she said.
Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, the Shadow Minister for Education and Sports, said that the tax on diapers has not been researched and there is no clear background as to why the government is imposing the increment.
Meanwhile, the female MPs indicated that they would launch a campaign to compel the government to fulfill its pledges, especially to provide free sanitary pads to students.
Four years ago, the government pledged to provide free sanitary pads to students.
“The price for pads has remained high and is ever increasing in some parts of the country. This has made the affordability of sanitary products out of reach for the majority of menstruating girls. Adolescent girls face a range of challenges that may compromise their chances of completing school. It is reasonable that the government provide them with sanitary products to help them manage menstruation,” Bagala said.
Nabukenya recounted that in 2022, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that among 10 learners, one drops out before Primary Seven and that one of the issues responsible for the dropout is menstruation.
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