The GST Council has decided to exempt 18 per cent GST levied on satellite launch services offered by the ISRO, Antrix Corporation Ltd and NSIL, in a bid to encourage start-ups making satellites to use domestic launching services, said Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pande.
However, it was not clear whether this relief will be extended to private launch companies. Firms in this space have said there will not be a level playing field of such a thing doesn't happen.
"This (GST exemption) will help protect the native satellite industry utilise homegrown launch capabilities without the upfront GST burden and give it a level-playing field. But they haven't said anything about private launch companies like Skyroot. If that is so (meaning if the relief in not extended to private launch firms), it's again not a level-playing field," said Pawan Kumar Chandana. CEO, Skyroot. His company builds rockets to put commercial satellites into space.
"It will directly encourage the creation of a whole new system of satellite players in India. Now the field is level and the Indian satellite industry will boom, encouraging the entire space ecosystem," added Srinath Ravichandran, one of the founders of small rocket maker Agnikul Cosmos, which builds small vehicle to launch small satellites.
It may be noted, in a bid to increase private sector participation the Government announced a series of new reforms including In-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) will be the single window nodal agency for enabling and regulating space activities and usage of Isro facilities by the private sector.
The New Space India Ltd (NSIL) was set up in March 2019 to handle the commercial activities of Isro. It will obtain licence from DoS and Isro for Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which will lift satellites upto 500 kgs to in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), technology and transfer it to the industry through sub-licencing. It will provide launch services for customer satellites, will manufacture small SSLVs in collaboration with private sector, production and marketing of space-based services among others.
PwC's report tiled 'Preparing to Scale New Heights: Privatisation of India's Space Sector', says the sector can become a $50 billion industry, which would be around one per cent of India's projected $5 trillion economy, by 2024 from the current $7 billion.