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30 Sep 2019
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Economics of the Public Sector (2019)

5 Weeks
Programme Area
Public Finance and Trade
Course schedule is subject to change. Course fee is non-refundable but transferrable to another course or participant and subject to change as per UNITAR's policy on pricing.
Event Focal Point Email
Public – by registration
Mode of Delivery
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The economies of different countries are organised in different combinations of what economic literature classifies as traditional economic systems, command systems and free market systems. In no country would one probably find a perfect textbook example of anyone, rather combinations with the pendulum having swung very far in favour of market systems, although not entirely free in the sense of the textbook model.

In such mixed economies the market and the state both have an important role to play; the question is what ought to be the role of each – how is the balance obtained between a degree of market freedom and a degree of state intervention?

This is the fundamental question which participants to this course will be able to answer. Such participants will thus be able to make case studies of the variety of roles which the state plays in their respective economies and to evaluate the economic and social justification for each case of state intervention. In a similar vein, participants will be able to evaluate new cases for state intervention that may arise and determine the fundamental validity of cases for privatization that may or ought to arise.

Participants to this course will be able to identify those cases of capital expenditure by the state that ought to be subjected to systems analyses, in particular social cost-benefit analyses.

At the end of this course the participants should be able:

  • To analyze and describe what communities expect of their respective countries’ economic systems – what, holistically, the key performance areas of any economy are.
  • To describe the degree of legitimacy to which the state plays a role with regard to each of these key performance areas in their respective countries.
  • To select and thus to formulate advice on the policy instruments at the disposal of the state in order to perform its legitimate role with regard to each of the key performance areas.
  • To select and thus to formulate advice on the analytical techniques at the disposal of the state when decisions are taken with regard to undertaking major public sector projects of a capital expenditure nature.
  • To describe and evaluate the principles underlying the devolution of power in countries where decentralised governments are constitutionally provided for.

This course runs over a period of six weeks comprising the following modules:

  • Module 1: The key performance areas of an economy and the main failures and successes that occur in this regard.
  • Module 2: The case for state intervention in respect of each of the four key performance areas and the choice of interventionist policy instruments.
  • Module 3: An overview of the systems analyses techniques to evaluate public sector capital projects.
  • Module 4: The Fundamentals of Taxation.
  • Module 5: Fiscal Federalism: The economic rationale for decentralising government functions.
  • Module 6: Fiscal Federalism: The economic principles underlying the constitutional devolution of powers to perform functions, fund such performing of functions through taxation and through public sector borrowing.

In order to ensure the best possible outreach, the course will be delivered through e-learning. Through a multiple-instructional setting, the goal is to achieve the learning objectives by means of learning technologies that match personal learning styles and by the inclusion of non-linear learning that aims at the development of just-in-time skills of adult learners. At the same time, in order to allow participants maximum flexibility of scheduling , the learning will be conducted in an asynchronous manner. Using a state-of-the-art training architecture, UNITAR will combine self-learning with assessments and online discussions. The pedagogy - adapted specifically to professionals in full-time work - will help train participants through various experiences: absorb (read); do (activity); interact (socialize); reflect (relate to one’s own reality).

Junior to middle management public service officials, not only in government departments but also in government agencies such as parastatals. Central Bank officials at comparable staff levels would also benefit from this course.

A certificate of completion will be issued by UNITAR to all participants who complete the course-related assignments and assessments successfully. Course schedule is subject to change. Course fee is non-refundable but transferrable to another course or participant and subject to change as per UNITAR's policy on pricing.

Recommended hardware and software requirements for taking our e-learning courses:

  • Platform: Windows XP sp3, Vista sp2, Windows 7 sp1, MacOS X.
  • Hardware: 2 GB of RAM and higher for Vista and Windows 7.
  • Software: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat Reader (downloadable for free at
  • Browser: Internet Explorer 8 or higher; Mozilla Firefox 8 or higher.
  • Internet connection: 128kbps and higher.
  • Note: JavaScript, pop-ups & cookies must be enabled.