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Montenegro Govt Urged to Back Law to End ‘Period Poverty’

Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee voted to support a proposed Period Poverty Law, calling on the Montenegrin Finance Ministry to reduce VAT rates on women’s sanitary products and baby diapers.

Montenegro’s parliament Finance and Budget Committee on Wednesday voted for a proposal to bring in a Period Poverty Law intended to cut taxes on women’s sanitary products and baby diapers.

According to the law proposed by the opposition Liberal Party, value added tax, VAT, on period products and baby diapers should be cut from 21 per cent to seven per cent.

Liberal MP Andrija Popovic said that the government should respond to those on low incomes who cannot afford or access suitable period products.

“A period is not a matter of choice, but a natural process and as such requires the availability of appropriate hygiene supplies. Even though there is no official data on period poverty this problem is present in Montenegro. Unfortunately, it is unfairly neglected by the authorities”, Popovic said.

According to official data, the current sanitary towel price in Montenegro ranges from 1.39 to 3.55 euros, while a package of baby diapers costs up to 21 euros.

Ruling Democratic Montenegro MP Tamara Vujovic warned that the average woman in Montenegro spends around 5,000 euros on period necessities during their lifetime.

“Period supplies, which include tampons, pads and menstrual cups, are basic necessities. This is an essential matter and the VAT rate should be lifted,” Vujovic said.

According to NGO CAZAS’s survey of the student population from March, more than 25 per cent said they cannot afford period products. More than 20 per cent of survey respondents said they are managing with cheaper and inadequate products.

During the committee session, Finance Ministry representatives did not support the proposal to lower  VAT, arguing that practice has shown that lower VAT rates will not lead to lower retail prices.

Period poverty is a lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has proposed to allow member states to scrap tax on period products, removing a current requirement for a minimum five per cent VAT rate. The UK scrapped its tax on period products in 2021.