(Photo: ASEAN)

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – President Joko Widodo received the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Lim Jock Hoi at the Merdeka Palace on Friday to discuss the construction of the new ASEAN Secretariat building in Jakarta.

“ASEAN is certainly not a new issue for those of you who have studied ASEAN issues for some time,” the President said in his speech receiving Lim.

The government has worked hard to ensure that the building of the new ASEAN secretariat is finished by the beginning of 2019.

“And the new building should be fully utilized for ASEAN meeting and the number of meeting should also be to give positive impact for any member,” said Joko Widodo in the meeting.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi outlined the secretariat office will be optimized to help efficiency in operational activities.

“We are very grateful with the government of Indonesia for providing us new building that will be five times the size of the present building, two towers, sixteen stories, we hope to use as efficient as possible to reduce the cost of meetings that we held in ASEAN,” said Jock Hoi.

Demolition works have begun this week in preparation for the long-awaited construction of new premises for the ASEAN Secretariat in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The current building of the ASEAN Secretariat, or ASEC for short, is four decades old and has grown way too small for the more than 300 staff and the many ASEAN meetings taking place every day.

The ASEAN Secretariat was set up in February 1976 by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. It was then housed at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia in Jakarta. The existing ASEAN Secretariat at 70A Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Jakarta was established and officiated in 1981 by the then President of Indonesia, H.E. Soeharto.

The ASEAN Secretariat’s basic function is to provide for greater efficiency in the coordination of ASEAN organs and for more effective implementation of ASEAN projects and activities.

ASEAN’s combined real GDP more than doubled in the last 10 years, accompanied by rapid growth in consumer spending, urbanisation and internet use. By 2030, ASEAN middle-class households will more than quadruple to US$ 161 million.

Written by Elisa Valenta, email: elisa.valenta@theinsiderstories.com