Anka Mrak Taritaš of the GLAS party, who put forward the amendments, said that during her life every woman in Croatia pays around HRK 8,000 in VAT on sanitary towels and tampons.
She recalled that many European countries had lower tax rates for those products and added that the European Parliament in 2019 adopted a resolution on gender equality and taxation policy in the EU calling on member-countries to exempt feminine hygiene products from VAT.
She noted, however, that her proposal would probably not be supported by the parliamentary majority as the government lacked empathy for women, calling on it to put forward its own amendments if it considered her proposal inadequate.
Zdravko Zrinušić, director of the Tax Authority, said the proposal could not be supported because a systematic solution was required to avoid undesirable effects. He recalled that VAT had already been lowered on food, medicines, energy and municipal services yet that did not result in lower prices.
Nikolina Baradić of the ruling HDZ party said that she could not support Mrak Taritaš’s proposal because it was inadequate, adding that the government cared about the equality of women and fought against poverty and social exclusion.
Ana Pocrnić Radošević (HDZ) said that VAT reduction had not resulted in lower prices but in an increase in retail margins. The experience of some countries shows that VAT reduction was not the right way to solve the problem, she said.
Sabina Glasovac (SDP) said that women pay HRK 130 million annually into the state budget just because they are women as they cannot function without feminine hygiene products.
That is not a luxury and should not be taxed with the highest rate, while VAT on cinema tickets and newspapers, which is not something one could not live without, is 5%, Glasovac said, noting that VAT on feminine hygiene products would probably be lowered when that was requested by the EU.
Katarina Nemet of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) supported the amendments, noting that Croatia should follow the example of countries where feminine hygiene products were free, for example in schools.
Marijana Puljak (Centar/GLAS) called on the government to support Mrak Taritaš’s proposal as did Nikola Grmoja (Bridge).
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