The Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) was established as the result of a decision taken at the meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Barbados in 1977. Following this decision, CATA's constitution was drawn up and an Interim Management Committee was elected at a meeting of senior Commonwealth tax administrators held in London from 22-23 May 1978. Initially, twenty seven Commonwealth countries were enrolled as Members of CATA. Limited staff support was provided by the Commonwealth Secretariat until July 1980 when an Executive Secretary was recruited and an office was set up within the Commonwealth Secretariat premises. During the first few years, CATA functioned mainly as a clearing house and undertook only a limited range of activities, i.e. organising annual technical conferences and publishing a quarterly Newsletter. Then, in 1983, CATA mounted its first training programme in the UK - the Advanced Management Training Programme for senior tax officials.
Very soon due recognition was given by the Commonwealth Finance Ministers to the important role that CATA had begun to play. This is reflected in the following paragraph of the final communiqué released to the Heads of Commonwealth Governments at the end of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting held in St Lucia in September 1986:
"Ministers noted with appreciation the activities of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators....... They urged all Commonwealth countries which are not yet members to join the Association as soon as possible."
The membership of CATA has since grown to 46 countries, making it the largest organisation of its kind in the world. CATA's activities now include annual technical workshops, high quality training programmes for tax officials, in country training programmes tailored to meet the specific needs of members, publication of a quarterly Newsletter, provision of consultancy services and research facilities for members upon request, the supply of information to members, and an Internet service. The growth and development of CATA in terms of its stature and the scope of its activities was again recognised by the Finance Ministers of the Commonwealth in the joint Communiqué issued at the conclusion of their annual meeting in Mauritius in 1997:
"Ministers appreciated the contribution of CATA in capacity building in tax administration; and encouraged it to extend the scope of its activities to new areas especially in providing technical assistance to member countries".