Barbados exceeds expectations as CATA returns to its cradle
The verdict has been delivered - the 37th CATA Technical Conference was a resounding success. The results of the post Conference evaluation indicate that for the majority of delegates, the Barbados event exceeded expectations both in terms of the technical content but also in the area of logistics.
That the 2016 Conference was being held in Barbados had important significance for the Association. Even as delegates trooped into Bridgetown in November, many were scarcely aware that they were making a pilgrimage to a country where the idea of a Commonwealth-wide tax organization was conceived. It was 39 years ago in 1977 during a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministers of Finance in Barbados when a decision for such an organization was reached. One year later, on the 23rd May 1978, the CATA Constitution was formally adopted, with Barbados being one of the 23 founder member countries.
With a modest total population of under 300,000, it seemed a huge challenge for the country to host an event of this magnitude. Moreover, the Conference coincided with the country’s 50th independence Anniversary celebrations, another major event that put immense strain on the host. Many thanks must go to the Revenue Commissioner Ms Margaret Sivers, who marshalled the entire staff of the Barbados Revenue Authority to ensure all went as planned.
The hosting of the Conference in Barbados was also significant because it was the first time in 17 years that it was being held in the Caribbean region- having been hosted by Belize in 1999. It therefore received huge participation from the countries in the region who hitherto had missed out on many CATA events. This fact was not lost on the Barbados Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs the Hon. Christopher Sinckler M.P who reiterated the need for the Commonwealth countries to work together in confronting some of the economic challenges facing them.
At the end of the 5-day event, it truly turned out to be a pilgrimage- coming back to where this great Association was born. Nothing summarises these sentiments better than the words of one participant- “it fills me with reverence not unlike that of a devout Roman Catholic priest visiting the Vatican for the first time”.