The Goods and Services Tax Council has decided to exempt sanitary napkins from taxation, Union Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday after the 28th meeting of the council in New Delhi.

Goyal said stones, marble, rakhi, wooden deities and sal leaves also would not be taxed, ANI reported. While the Goods and Services Tax on imported urea has been reduced to 5%, the tax on washing machines have been reduced from 28% to 18%, he added. Some other items to be moved from the 28% tax slab to the 18% slab are special purpose vehicles, work trucks, trailers, lithium ion batteries, vacuum cleaners, food grinders, mixers, storage water heaters, hair dryers, hand dryers, paints, varnishes, water coolers, milk coolers, ice cream coolers, perfumes, and toilet sprays.

“I think the 28% tax slab should be done away with,” said Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who holds the finance portfolio. “The issue is being unnecessarily dragged.”

The tax on bamboo flooring, handbags, jewellery boxes, wooden boxes for paintings, glass artware, ornamental framed mirrors and handmade lamps, among other things, have been reduced to 12%.

The Union interim finance minister said the decisions taken today would be applicable from July 27 and the GST Council will not focus on job creation apart from collecting revenue. The council has cleared 46 amendments, which will be passed in Parliament, Goyal added.

Traders with turnover up to Rs 5 crore will have to deposit tax every month but they do not have to file their returns quarterly, the minister said. The exemption limit for traders from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim, has been increased from Rs 10 lakh to 20 lakh.

Goyal said radio-frequency identification tags would soon be linked with the Goods and Services Tax Network in order to reduce the harassment of transporters. The minister added that return forms would be simplified into different formats for composite dealers, business-to-business dealers and business-to-consumer dealers.

A special meeting of the GST Council will be held on August 4 in Delhi and it will focus on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector.

Sanitary pads were placed in the 12% tax slab when the Goods and Services Tax was implemented on July 1, 2017, though several other products such as sindoor (vermilion) and bangles were declared tax-free. This move was severely criticised. Several activists and non-governmental organisations pointed out that only 12% of menstruating women in India could afford sanitary napkins.

In July 2017, the Ministry of Finance said that the tax on sanitary napkins was lower than before. The ministry said the napkins were taxed 13.68% before the GST was implemented because of a concessional excise duty and a value-added tax.