Sri Lanka's government has cut taxes on period products in a bid to help those unable to afford them because of the country's economic crisis.

Even before the downturn last year, many schoolgirls and women in Sri Lanka would stay home when menstruating because they could not afford sanitary products.

A study this year by policy advocacy group Advocata said "period poverty" - being unable to afford sanitary products - among Sri Lanka's 5.3 million women of reproductive age was about 50%.

Campaigners believe the situation has worsened with Sri Lanka suffering severe shortages of essential goods and inflation rates in excess of 70%.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe's office said today that customs duties, airport levies and other local taxes on raw materials imported to make period products was waived with immediate effect.

Imported pads and tampons will also cost 20% less due to a reduction in import duties, Mr Wickremesinghe's office said in a statement.

The tax cut was to "make hygiene products more affordable in view of ensuring hygiene among women and school girls," the statement said.

Months of protests over economic hardships led to the resignation of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa in July.

The country defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt in April and is in talks with the International Monetary Fund to secure a $2.9 billion bailout.

The new government of Wickremesinghe has begun implementing a new turnover tax of 2.5% on all goods and services in a bid to raise state revenue.

However, the government marginally reduced the price of petrol in line with global prices, but kept the price of diesel, commonly used in public transport, unchanged.