In a world overloaded with information, the nuances of governmental budgets often escape the attention of citizens. The intricacies of fiscal policy, allocation of resources, and economic forecasts can be overwhelming, leading many to dismiss the annual budget as a bureaucratic formality rather than a document with tangible implications for their lives. Junior Achievement Malta recognized this gap in public engagement and took a bold step to bridge it.

Through the lens of the inaugural Think Tank held at Storeroom Ta Xbiex, JA Malta aimed to carve out a space where individuals from diverse backgrounds could converge and delve into topics directly shaping their lives. As advocates for dialogue, the organization organized a gathering that not only united experts and the general public but also underscored an awareness that governmental decisions and policies reverberate beyond the halls of government, directly impacting the day-to-day existence of citizens.

The panel discussion broke down the complexities of the budget in a language accessible to both the young and the seasoned, which led to a dynamic exchange of ideas, challenging preconceptions, and fostering a sense of shared responsibility.

From this vibrant exchange, a pivotal realization emerged—the imperative for heightened awareness regarding the budget’s far-reaching implications. The panellists delved into budgetary allocations, shedding light on how these decisions could influence education, healthcare, infrastructure, and other critical facets of society. The Think Tank, beyond its educational role, was a catalyst for civic participation, urging attendees to perceive the budget not as a distant government document but a series of decisions that will directly impact their life.


The discussion was moderated by JA Malta’s Marco Calleja, and brought together figures in the Maltese community – Mr. David Xuereb, Board Member of the Foundation and Chairperson of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD), and Mr. Paul Xuereb – principal of G.F Abela Junior College.

Before delving into the insights of the panellists, the audience’s input was actively sought in an interactive session. Attendees were prompted to share their engagement with the budget, which demonstrated a specimen of diverse opinions and stances, setting the stage for a discussion that would not only bring together complementary views but also highlight contrasting perspectives.

As the panel discussion unfolded, Mr. David Xuereb shed light on the government’s approach when crafting the budget and emphasized the Maltese government’s attempt to factor in global events beyond the island’s shores during the formulation of the budget. From the lingering impacts of the pandemic to the complexities of the Ukrainian-Russian war and the unfolding developments in the Middle East, the government aimed to navigate these international currents while considering their implications for the country’s finances.

This broader approach, however, had its consequences. It led the government to adopt a more protectionist stance in the budget, potentially rendering the Maltese populace comfortably numb to the potential risks on the horizon. While such measures may offer a shield against external shocks, they also raise questions about the nation’s readiness to adapt to unforeseen challenges.

Mr. David Xuereb’s insights extended beyond the geopolitical landscape. He underscored a crucial facet of the current budget, echoing trends from previous fiscal plans – the encouragement of spending. In a country heavily reliant on tourism and internal consumption, the Maltese economy’s health is tied to the spending habits of its citizens. However, this approach, while boosting economic activity, raises concerns about the sustainability of such a model, especially when ‘quality of life’ becomes a buzzword amidst financial decisions.


Taking the stage after Mr. David Xuereb, Mr. Paul Xuereb concurred with the notion that the government’s priority was to maintain stability amid ongoing and past crises. However, he brought a nuanced perspective to the forefront, emphasizing that the budget should serve as more than just a short-term fix. Instead, it should provide strategic direction for the country, considering its long-term impact.

Drawing from his background in education, Mr. Paul Xuereb highlighted a pressing concern—the lack of engagement and long-term vision among the youth. He delved into specific strategies and policies embedded in the budget, aimed at addressing this issue. Notably, he pointed to the increase in stipends and the introduction of a family allowance amounting to 500 euros per year, designed to encourage young individuals to pursue education beyond the compulsory phase.

Yet, as these measures were discussed, a critical question emerged: Are these initiatives enough to truly motivate youths to stay in school and complete their education?
To address the root of the issue, a more profound examination is necessary. When students leave school, their immediate concern is often finding employment to contribute to family income and sustain themselves. In this context, a 500-euro annual family allowance might fall short, especially when compared to the potential earnings from even basic employment.

This also brings to the forefront what JA advocates for; it is about ensuring education is giving the right formation by constantly improving the curriculum and educational content. The harsh reality that should no longer be ignored is that thousands of graduates exit the educational system each year without adequate knowledge to manage their finances or decipher the impact of government decisions on their lives. This gap in financial literacy and basic life skills among graduates, whether from high school or university, poses a significant challenge. A shift towards a more holistic approach to education that equips students with the tools to navigate the complexities of the world and make informed decisions about their lives is more than necessary.

The vibrant atmosphere of the Think Tank extended beyond the panellists, with the floor open for audience interaction who enriched the discussion by building upon the points raised by the panellists. One prevalent sentiment echoed by the audience was the need for education that nurtures individuals capable of thinking beyond personal gains and short-term victories, and who can make political decisions with a long-term perspective in mind. This perspective underscored a broader societal concern—the role of education in shaping a citizenry that not only understands budgetary decisions but also engages in a thoughtful, forward-looking approach to political participation.

Furthermore, participants in the discussion acknowledged the inherent challenge in crafting a budget that satisfies everyone. The prevailing sentiment was that while complete satisfaction might be elusive, there is an expectation for the budget to provide a bare minimum. This sentiment emerged from a collective recognition that the quality of life is undeniably affected by the current economic situation and government policies.

As the dialogue unfolded, the focus shifted beyond the budget itself to the broader interplay between education, societal culture, and budgetary decisions. The conversation delved into the intricacies of Maltese society’s mindset, examining how cultural values and ways of thinking influence perceptions of governance and public policies.

As the formal panel concluded, the vibrant discussions continued organically among both panellists and audience members, showcasing a sustained interest in the critical issues addressed during the Think Tank.


Observing these discussions further underscores the imperative to organize more Think Tanks and create additional safe spaces for these conversations to take place. While Junior Achievement Malta takes pride in pioneering these discussions, the organization acknowledges the need to transcend dialogue and translate it into concrete actions.

The Think Tanks, undoubtedly a step in the right direction, complement JA Malta’s existing programmes and initiatives on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Recognizing the significance of these initiatives, JA is committed to nurturing a responsible community and preparing young adults for the challenges of the world.

In a world where news of a newly approved budget or financial decision by the government dominates headlines, it becomes crucial not just to be aware of such developments but to understand their implications. The importance of financial literacy is paramount – understanding how money works, managing finances effectively, tracking spending, saving, comprehending the intricacies of taxes, and being financially responsible and aware. These fundamental aspects are integral components of JA’s projects and programmes.

As we look ahead, the success and resonance of the Think Tank on budget discussions affirm the organization’s commitment to fostering informed dialogue and community engagement. With plans already in motion for additional Think Tanks, the next scheduled for December 19th, the call to participate and contribute to these vital conversations resounds louder than ever.

Mark your calendars for December 19th as Junior Achievement Malta hosts a much-needed discussion ahead of the new year!