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Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco

Bring the Mighty Sparrow back home and open a Venezuelan village for Venezuelans to sell their art, food and wares in Trinidad and Tobago.

These were among the recommendations from Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh in yesterday’s Senate debate of the 2021 Budget.

Deyalsingh raised the issue of Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco while speaking about artistes in TT grappling with COVID-19 restrictions.

Deyalsingh suggested having outdoor drive-in concerts at places like Price Plaza where people could view performances from their cars. He said food places could deliver to patrons in the cars.

Deyalsingh said he observed that the Mighty Sparrow had wistfully said recently he wanted to come home from the USA.

“Send plane and bring him home – the Birdie’s wings are clipped, ” he appealed.

But Deyalsingh, who noted that citizens are “hardened”, added more laws may be needed on the COVID situation as TT continues opening up. He cited setbacks other countries have suffered doing so.

On Venezuelans, Deyalsingh said land could be used for a place where they can sell their artwork, pottery and food, “Let there be a Spanish Village, I’d go just to eat the food.”

He suggested Venezuelans pay NIS and contribute more to TT as they use national services.

Noting the young Venezuelan boy who needed leukaemia treatment, he said the United Nations’ right of the child could be observed to facilitate this.

Deyalsingh, supporting the expansion of the retirement age to 65 said, it was age discrimination to tell a person who reached 60 they could no longer work if they could.

“We can’t just put people out to pasture, our Prime Minister, at 71 is very fit, many people can manage (over age 60). Older people should be empowered and be kept on even with systems to allow young ones to come up .”

He noted judges’ retirement age was increased and his own father served at 75 on the bench.

The Independent Senator on the topic of runaway crime and increasing home invasions advocated for the implementation of the Death Penalty law for all on Death Row.

Supporting the recruitment of overseas help in the Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) matter, he called for the US Drug Enforcement Agency to set up a base in this country.

Deyalsingh said late National Security Minister Martin Joseph had good plans- with the blimp and Offshore Patrol Vessels – but successive governments halted that. He said good plans shouldn’t be stopped when new governments enter.

Meanwhile, Deyalsingh said he was, hurt, angry and sad at the death of late Parliament clerk Sheranne Samuel and that the health system had deteriorated to the point where a young person like Samuel had to die the way she did. Deyalsingh said health sector issues which existed when he was an intern still do.

Lamenting the lack of the Manning administration’s proposed National Oncology Centre, Deyalsingh said both the PNM and UNC failed TT on this.

He said it’s unacceptable for good plans to fall by the wayside without accountability.

Deyalsingh who wore a pink ribbon in memory of a cancer patient, said repairs to places like President’s House and others mean little to cancer patients who needed treatment.

But he said he has hope since he noticed the Prime Minister’s wife Sharon Rowley had taken up cancer as a cause.

He urged the Government to have rural community outreach programmes for women on this.

He recommended that places with green spaces be allowed a discount on property tax and that Government aim to have one person in a household working.

Deyalsingh said the state of the homeless is still terrible and they can also easily spread COVID-19.

Deyalsingh called for a forum where people could report nepotism. He also said with the privatization of the Port Authority, the country had moved back to capitalism.