A private legal practitioner, James Kofi Afedo, and his foundation have dragged the Attorney General, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), and the Speaker of Parliament to the Supreme Court over the continuous collection of taxes on sanitary pads.

He argues that the trio had breached portions of Ghana’s constitution regarding the treatment of all persons as equal before the law.

He is asking the court for a declaration of the true and proper interpretation of the provisions of Articles 17(1),17(2),17(3), 24(1), 25(1), and 33(5).

According to him, the fact that the Excise Duty Amendment Act(2015), Act (903) imposes a 20% excise duty on menstrual hygiene products including sanitary pads, sanitary towels, menstrual caps, and tampons is unconstitutional, null, and void, and seen as inconsistent and in contravention of the constitution.

The legal practitioner is asking the court to issue an order directing the first and second defendants to refund all excise duties and value-added tax collected from the date of enforcement of both taxes to the date of this court judgment to be paid into a menstrual justice trust fund to be established and managed by the menstrual health coalition.

He wants the proceeds to be used to procure and distribute menstrual hygiene products to all junior and senior high schools under the supervision of the Parent Facilitators Association Ghana across all regions of the country.

Also, he is also asking for an order directed at the first and second defendants to pay interest on the fund at the commercial bank lending rate from the date of effectiveness of the taxes until the date of the final payment.

He also requested an order of injunction to prevent the defendant from further collecting the 20% excise duty and 17% value added tax on menstrual hygiene products.

One of the defendants, Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin, has already expressed his position against the said taxes.

The Speaker of Parliament on June 5, 2023, demanded the immediate removal of the taxes on sanitary pads.

According to Mr Bagbin, the menstrual cycle comes with its own complications, therefore, imposing taxes on sanitary pads is unacceptable.

Speaker demands immediate removal of taxes on sanitary pads

“Why should we pass a law imposing a tax on sanitary pads? This is unconscionable, it is a cardinal sin.

“The House should not have allowed it at all. You know the impact of that law on the human resource development of this country is immeasurable,” he said.

The Speaker’s comment followed an increase in calls on the government to remove the taxes on sanitary pads.

Earlier on Monday, June 22, 2023, some protesters began picketing at Parliament to make similar demands.

On the back of this, the Speaker whilst addressing the House directed the minister under whose supervision the imposition of the tax was implemented to review his budget before presenting it to Parliament.

“I have a copy of the petition and I have to take immediate action to prevent whatever the minister is proposing to be taken off,” he said.

There have been several calls by various stakeholders demanding the removal of taxes on sanitary pads.

Notable amongst them is Ama Pratt, leader of the group of protesters who petitioned Parliament to demand the removal of the taxes.

Speaking to JoyNews, she said the taxes on sanitary pads must be removed because it was a natural phenomenon and women and girls did not have a choice.

Juxtaposing periods to condoms and childbearing, where people had the will to choose, she said periods were normal and nothing can be done to end them.

She continued that there are young girls and teenagers who find it very difficult to feed themselves, therefore imposing taxes on this basic necessity was wrong.