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CSOs urge govt for tax exemption on contraceptives to improve family planning

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), a Population Coalition (CPC), have called upon the federal government to abide by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) decision to ensure contraceptive commodity security and uninterrupted availability of all contraceptives.

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The current Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 presented in the Parliament by the federal government has put annual taxation of Rs 200 million on the import of contraceptives.

The bill has proposed removing tax exemptions worth Rs 2 billion from items of general use including contraceptives.

The CPC is a coalition of 19 Civil Society Organisations working across Pakistan on the thematic areas of family planning, reproductive health and rights, women’s rights, education, child rights, environment, peace and governance, and rural development

Affordability and accessibility to family planning services are identified as major barriers contributing to the high unmet need in Pakistan.

Currently, 53 percent of couples both rich and poor who are practicing family planning obtain contraceptives from pharmacies, shops and the private sector. It is this large majority of the population that will be most affected by this new tax.

Considering that women are disproportionality 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.

Contraceptive security is included among the eight strategies for achieving the planned CCI goals.

Pakistan has the lowest contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) among the regional countries and taxing contraceptives will undoubtedly adversely affect the increase in contraceptive uptake in the country.

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