MINISTER for Labour Jone Usamate has denied that the proposed national minimum wage increase had anything to do with attracting voters in next year's national elections.
Mr Usamate made the comments after presiding over the national minimum wage debate on Wednesday night between Commerce Commission chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy and Professor Wadan Narsey.
"No, this was mandated well before the elections.
"We have had wages before this government came in but the one thing that we never had was a national minimum wage that covered everybody," Mr Usamate said.
"We have been doing this for some time.
"The ten wages councils have been in place for many years and the last minimum wage that I approved was done last year.
"So this has been around for some time and it's not something new."
Mr Usamate said the only change was the removal of the wages councils. This, he added, allowed people to "fall between the gaps".
"We had minimum wages in ten different sectors but there are people that fall between the gaps.
"This new national minimum wage will cover everybody else that falls outside of those sectors.
"That's the only thing that's new but minimum wages have been here for some time."
He said the national minimum wage was planned earlier but delays like people being busy derailed it.
"We hope to get it out of the way this year," Mr Usamate said.
Meanwhile, the debate between Dr Reddy and Prof Narsey boiled down to the pair agreeing to a minimum wage rate.
But each differed on the ways to implement the wage rate.
Prof Narsey argued that not all sectors of the economy would be able to pay a national minimum wage rate to workers stating instead that the wages needed to be differentiated by sectors.
"Dr Reddy goes by one national minimum wage while I go with differentiated sectoral wages," Prof Narsey said.