Puja items, rudraksh, sacred thread kept in zero tax GST list

While the rate for agarbattis are fixed at 12 per cent, lobhan, misri and batasha are kept under 5 per cent tax rate. Earlier misri, batasha and bura were under 18 per cent tax net.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Published:June 4, 2017 1:40 am

The GST Council on Saturday decided to keep the items used in Puja including Rudraksha, sacred thread and wick, under zero tax. However, incense sticks –agarbattis –have been kept out of NIL GST list to protect the domestic manufacturers , already facing a tough competition from Chinese and Vietnamese products.

The GST Council which met on Saturday agreed to exempt the items used in Puja and Havan as demanded by Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP recently swept the state elections. The list submitted by Uttar Pradesh included incense sticks, commonly known as agarbatti, Rudraksha (rudraksha mala, tulsi kanthi mala, panchagavya – mixture of cow dung, desi ghee, milk and curd, sacred thread (yagnopavit), wooden khadau, panchamrit, vibhuti sold by religious institutions, unbranded honey, wick or diya, misri, batasha and bura.

However, the council refused to accept agarbattis, misri and batasha under the zero tax category.

While the rate for agarbattis are fixed at 12 per cent, lobhan, misri and batasha are kept under 5 per cent tax rate. Earlier misri, batasha and bura were under 18 per cent tax net.

“Goods like incense sticks are manufactured items and exempting from GST will put domestic manufacturers of such goods at a disadvantage vis-à-vis imports,” the council noted.

The decision is politically significant at a time when the ruling BJP is trying to consolidate the Hindu votes ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A top official however pointed out that most of the agarbatti manufactures — part of the labour intensive cottage industry — will come below the GST tax threshold of Rs 20 lakh annual turnover.

Commerce ministry data says, India, which has been facing tough competition from Vietnam and China even in the domestic market — mainly because the lower price they are offering — exported agarbattis worth $498.02 million between 2012-2016.

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  1. S
    Srikumaran Industry
    Jun 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm
    Please confirm whether the incense sticks are exempted from GGT or not
    Reply
  2. L
    LMN Trading
    Jun 4, 2017 at 6:12 pm
    There is no clear advantage for domestic agarbathy manufacturers viz imports. The gst council has not levied any additional duty on imports. In most states agarbathy taxes will jump from 0 to 12 .
    Reply
  3. P
    Parth Garg
    Jun 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm
    Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas means exempting "pooja Samagri' from GST but not prayer necessities of other religions.
    Reply