Colombo (LNW): A Dutch cultural delegation is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from August 27 – 31 to sign the legal document transferring the ownership of the cultural artifacts that will be returned to the island nation later this year.
The delegation will be led by Gunay Uslu, the State Secretary for Cultural and Media in the Netherlands.
The official delegation will consist of Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General Culture and Media in the Netherlands; Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, Chairperson of Dutch Colonial Collections Committee; and Dr. Alicia Schrikker, a Member of the Committee.
The objects planned to be returned include the famous Lewke’s canon, two Gold kastanes (ceremonial swords), a Sinhalese knife, a Silver kastane and two guns.
(A 1765 cannon looted from Sri Lanka displayed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Colombo said the visiting State Secretary is expected to meet with the senior officials of the Sri Lankan government to mark this historic moment.
The legal transfer of ownership will be signed at the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious & Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka on August 28 (Monday). The delegation will visit a few places with religious and Dutch historic value in Sri Lanka.
With regard to the return of cultural artifacts, the embassy said the Netherlands, while acknowledging both the tangible and intangible heritage of Dutch colonial times in Sri Lanka, is critically looking at its own role in history.
In 2021 the Dutch government approved the policy for the return of cultural heritage objects that are in the possession of the Dutch State. The indigenous populations of colonial territories were served an injustice through the involuntary loss of objects that formed part of their cultural heritage, says the Dutch government.
Therefore Dutch government is keen to help rectify this historic injustice by returning cultural heritage objects to their country of origin and by strengthening international cooperation in this area, the embassy said further.
In December 2022, the Dutch government appointed an independent commission, the Advisory Committee on the Return of Cultural Objects from Colonial Context, chaired by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, to assess and facilitate the return of colonial objects to their respective countries of origin.
At the request of Sri Lanka, this committee decided in July this year to advise to return 6 objects of cultural significance that were wrongfully brought to the Netherlands during the colonial period.
In 2021, researchers from both countries studied the provenance (background) of these objects extensively. In 1765, these items were taken as loot by the Dutch from the Kandyan Kingdom during the siege of the Palace.
The embassy said the people of the Netherlands feel a moral obligation to return looted or otherwise wrongfully acquired objects to their rightful owners.
“Righting the wrongs of the past is needed to heal the historic wounds. The return process is expected to form the basis for further cooperation between the two countries and the cultural institutions concerned.
The cooperation will mainly be focused on the exchange of technical expertise, knowledge sharing and education.”
Srilanka Board of Investment goes digital, looking at targeted initiatives to get from $ 1 billion in 2022 to $ 2 billion in 2023 by attracting 100 technology services companies with a new product, and a targeted programme to get 50 existing BOI companies to reinvest.
The Board of Investment (BOI) has launched a Virtual Help Desk at the World Trade Centre, Colombo 1 as part of its digital transformation strategy to digitise key customer touch points.
The BOI is also moving towards digitising the application process to cut back on the days needed for a project to be approved. Several other initiatives include an Employment and Banking Guide.
The aim is to improve the information flow and make it easier for potential investors, including the launch of a BOI mobile application.
The hallmark of the FDI destination is to create an investor-centric customer service design. The need for such a design will serve the multifaceted needs of investors.
Further, it will lead the system to the next level amidst Industry 4.0. The application of AI, Machine Learning leads to big data analysis, and Cyber manufacturing with the Internet of Things (IoT) brings smart factories, smart agriculture, and autonomous transportation which has become the new normal in today’s context.
Hence the data-driven connectivity-enabled business ecosystem will be the gold standard for doing business. The journey of digitization creates a much-needed business ecosystem that attracts the correct type of FDI to the country.
The Board of Investment (BOI) as the apex organization of investment promotion in Sri Lanka is the advisor, guide, and facilitator to every investor looking to make a home in Sri Lanka.
The first point of contact for global and local companies whom we handhold from the day they start exploring Sri Lanka as an investment destination. Therefore, we make every move in the interest of efficacy so that those who interact with the BOI, can do business with ease.
The BOI embarked on its Digital transformation amidst the pandemic and the solution for less human contact aims at a paperless documentation platform where any enterprise registered under the BOI can submit relevant documents electronically without a visit to the BOI office physically.
The sole objective of this system is to provide a speedy service to our valued enterprises where processes and procedures have been simplified and streamlined. The system is open to both local and foreign enterprises who aspire to embark on an investment journey with the BOI.
The system comprises six categories. Under the first category, enterprises/Customs House Agents (CHA) can electronically submit import and export Customs Declarations (CUSDECS) along with shipping documents to the BOI computer system (Asycuda Customs Computer System.
The second category, which is a Risk Management initiative and auto validation system, automatically validates relevant BOI compliances. When the CUSDEC is submitted to the system by CHA, it is confirmed to BOI by BOI enterprises through the web portal.
Automation of import of chemicals by the BOI enterprises, which is the third category, oversees the import of chemicals and quantities by the BOI enterprises while the submission of annual requirements of chemicals with quantities is updated electronically to the web.