The Goods and Services Tax Council on Friday reduced the tax rate on fertilisers from 12% to 5%, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the council had approved an additional set of rules at its 18th meeting.

“The matter was raised [at the meeting] in response to a number of representations made against the 12% rate, which some felt would have increased the burden on farmers,” Jaitley said. “There was consensus in the council on bringing the rate down to 5% so that the price of fertilisers, if at all, comes down and does not go up.”

The news comes hours ahead of the GST’s midnight launch at Parliament. Traders on Friday observed a “Bharat bandh” in protest against the rollout of the new tax regime.