Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Sunday clarified that the government had not imposed a ban on sanitary pads or diapers — or their raw materials — and that the restrictions only applied to "some luxury or non-essential goods".
In a tweet this morning, he said that there is no ban on "any industrial raw material". "The ban is only on some luxury or non-essential goods. And there is certainly no ban on sanitary pads or diapers (or their raw materials), which are obviously essential goods."
The minister added that the government will issue an official clarification over the matter tomorrow (Monday).
On May 19, the government imposed a ban on the import of non-essential luxury items under an "emergency economic plan". The decision was announced after the dollar witnessed a meteoric rise against the rupee on account of the country's rising import bill, growing current account deficit and depleting foreign exchange reserves.
Among the more than 30 categories of banned items on the list, some concerns were raised that the raw material used for the production of sanitary napkins were also among the bans.
In an interview with Dawn Images recently, the chief operating officer of Santex — one of the two companies that produce pads in the country — said that two of the core raw materials that form the base of the napkins were imported.
"The ban would mean the factory would have to shut down eventually because we can’t manufacture them anymore after the current supply runs out," Muhammad Kamran said.
He shared that the raw materials in question were sap paper and wadding cellulose fibre. These products fell under HS Code 4803.000 which, according to the Ministry of Commerce, were banned under the new import ban.
"[These] are basic raw materials utilised in the manufacturing of female sanitary napkins. These items are neither tissues nor luxury but are included in S.No 63 of the SRO," he added.
Speaking about the unfair inclusion of raw materials or semi-finished products in the list of finished products, Kamran disagreed with their qualification as "luxury" items.