ISLAMABAD: The proposal of imposing annual taxation of Rs200 million on import of contraceptives has been widely criticised.

The Civil Society Organisations Population Coalition (CPC) has called upon the federal government to abide by the decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to ensure that contraceptives are available.

The current Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 presented in the parliament by the government proposes annual taxation of Rs200 million on the import of contraceptives. It has also been proposed that tax exemptions worth Rs2 billion must be removed from items of general use including contraceptives.

CPC is a coalition of 19 civil society organisations working across Pakistan on family planning, reproductive health and rights, women’s rights, education, child rights, environment, peace and governance, and rural development.

In a statement, CPC stated that currently 53pc of couples, both rich and poor, obtain contraceptives from pharmacies, shops and the private sector. It is this large majority of the population that will be most affected by the tax.

“Considering that women are disproportionately affected by undergoing repeated pregnancies and the burden they must carry in nurturing their families - denying family planning services by making contraceptives less affordable has serious gender and human rights implications. Contraceptives are an essential medical commodity. Pakistan must avoid missing opportunities by ensuring affordable and uninterrupted supply of a wide range of contraceptive methods to achieve well-being of its people and for sustained population growth,” it added.

Contraceptive security is included among the eight strategies for achieving goals planned by the CCI. It must be noted that Pakistan has the lowest contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) among regional countries and taxing contraceptives will adversely affect increase in contraceptive uptake in the country.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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