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GST rate on cement, steel, pipes, roofing sheets and other building materials: Implications on housing sector

The Indian cement industry is the second largest cement producer in the world. The Government of India is focussing on developing affordable housing. However, due to high GST rate of 28%, the cement industry is not being able to work on low economies of scale resulting in a higher cost for the affordable housing sector. The government should take serious note of reducing the GST rate from 28% to 18% to boost the cement industry which would provide an ultimate boost to the infrastructure and housing sectors. In the pre GST era, the rate of tax on steel was around 19.5% (Excise rate 12.5%, VAT 5%, CST 2%). After the implementation of GST, with effect from July 1, 2017, the rate of GST for steel is 18% and for some of the input used by the steel industry like iron, coal & transportation services, the GST rate is as low as 5%. As a result of the low tax rate, the overall cost of steel will decrease. This will have a positive impact on the housing sector. Most of the pipes used for the construction of buildings were earlier taxed at 28% and later the rate was reduced to 18%. But still the rates are higher, and the government should reduce the rate to 12%. This will give a boost to the housing sector. Roofing sheet is one of the most useful items for the construction of buildings. The GST rate for roofing sheets is 18%. GST rate for bricks is in the range of 5% to 28% depending upon the nature of the bricks. Building bricks and bricks of fossil meals attract 5% GST. On the other hand, multicellular or foam glass in blocks, panels, plates, shells or similar forms attract a 28% GST. For other items like bathroom fittings GST rate is mainly 28% except for pipe fittings for which, as mentioned above, it is 18%. GST for wallpapers is 28%. Interior products GST rate is between 18% and 28%. In the case of painting and other similar items, the GST rate is 28%. A person should keep in mind the varied GST rate applicable on inputs and accordingly make a suitable decision. For example, the GST rate varies from 5% to 28% on bricks, marbles & tiles. Also, a person can take benefit of the reduced GST rate on steel. Apart from that, a mix of materials like cement, steel, roofing sheets and others can be used to minimise higher GST input cost on the housing sector.

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