KRISH PONNUSAMY
Former Senior Chief Executive

At a time when people all over the world are heading towards the period of festivities marking Xmas and New Year I did not expect to see in my Inbox a sad announcement emanating for the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management(CAPAM). KRISH PONNUSAMY

The announcement explained the painful decision taken by the General Assembly in the first week of December to proceed with the voluntary liquidation and dissolution of CAPAM.The number of paying members continued to dwindle and the financial situation reached a point of no return despite all efforts to reduce the expenses to the maximum.

CAPAM is a household name to many top Public Officers in all countries of the Commonwealth. During its 25 years of existence,CAPAM has surveyed the various Public Administration systems, emphasized the sharing of knowledge, experiences, best practices and promoted the highest standard of public service by vigorously recommending the constant reengineering of the Public Service All its exchange programmes aimed at making Public Officers more responsive to the needs of the population, the country and the planet. It has been a powerful torch bearer for Public Administration world wide.

CAPAM encouraged all Public Officers to embark on a continuous journey of reform and modernization in the light of the extraordinary challenges they would encounter in all spheres of activities climate change, air and water pollution, sustainable development, food safety and security and, good governance. The list is too long.

We enjoyed the learning journey by attending the Biennial Conferences held in each Commonwealth country .Each conference was meticulously planned to satisfy the diverse needs of the members, A central theme for the conference was chosen after careful debate and panel discussions on sub themes were programmed during the conference, allowing for maximum participation and sharing. To illustrate the importance of such conferences, Heads of Government of the host country would honour CAPAM by personally attending the inaugural session , delivering the keynote address and spending time with the delegates.

The interaction among top Political figures, Public Officers and Private sector representatives proved to be very beneficial to all parties.

I was privileged to represent the Mauritius Public Service in the Biennial Conferences in Singapore and Australia a few years back and on both occasions ,I was invited to be part of the discussion panels along with Commonwealth Ministers , top Public Officers and Academia.CAPAM has always inspired us to be public sector leaders of significant influence and ability.

Although Mauritius did not host any Biennial Conference,it was honoured to organise a CAPAM workshop in 2004 when I was the Head of the Ministry of Civil Service.The then Prime Minister marked his presence by addressing the delegates at the inaugural ceremony and it was my humble duty to chair the plenary sessions.CAPAM delegates poured their energy into the discussions and made the workshop a great success. At that time nobody would have the faintest dream that we could lose our prestigious organization for want of financial resources.

In the final analysis, CAPAM Board of Directors has sadly approved earlier this week the closure of the organization.In its farewell message,the Board hopes that the internationally acclaimed Innovation Awards and the high level exchanges will be” perpetuated through other fora and that CAPAM vision of inspiring excellence across the public service will endure.”

With the demise of CAPAM,it will be a sin to stop the transmission of knowledge and exchange of ideas.I very much hope that the new breed of Public Officers will find the best formula to keep the precious networking process alive
The spirit of CAPAM should continue to inspire us to reinvent the organization.

20 December 2019