The indirect tax structure on cement has always been a subject matter of discussion amongst industry members, Government officials and tax experts.
The industry has often been vocal about the differential tax treatment meted out to cement as compared to steel which together comprise of the most essential ingredients for infrastructure development.
The present excise duty levy on cement is a complex one- being a combination of ad-valorem and specific duties depending on various parameters ranging from status of the manufacturer (mini or others) to type of packing (retail or bulk). This coupled with the VAT rate of 13.5% to 14.5% in most states results in an effective indirect tax rate in the range of 27% to 31% (approximately) depending on the type of cement (bulk or packaged).
With the present Government’s focus on infrastructure and affordable housing, the industry was pinning their hopes of equality in GST rates between cement and steel. However, the principle of equivalence appears to have been followed on account of which, the GST Council placed cement in the higher rate slab of 28% as compared to steel (placed in the 18% slab).