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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        10  May 2011

Firms in Vietnam defy dollar rules

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Many businesses in HCM City have continued to list the prices of goods and services in US dollar despite the State Bank of Viet Nam's ban on such practice. The latest central bank document guiding implementation of Decree on Foreign Exchange forbids listing prices of goods and services in US dollar or both in dollar and Vietnamese dong, with violators to be fined.

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the State Bank of Viet Nam's HCM City branch, said the branch this year had, by working with market watchdogs and police, fined 27 offenders with a total of VND25 million (US$1,196) for each violation.

However, the practice still occurs in different sectors, and even watch and clothing shops inside several large shopping centres in HCM City are listing goods in US dollar.

He said the branch would play a central role in making random inspections soon.

One shop found to be in violation was a computer store run by the TD Service and Trading Co Ltd on Bui Thi Xuan Street in District 1. It was found to be quoting electronic products in catalogues, including projectors and laptops, in US dollar.

The shop salesman said the shop sold mostly imported goods, so quoting prices in US dollar was a way to hedge against the often-devalued Vietnamese dong.

He added that customers who paid for their purchases in dong would also be charged with the exchange rate at the time of buying.

A nearby beauty parlor is also quoting its services in the greenback, with expenses for breast-boosting surgery listed at $1,900-2,700.

Several other service companies are also quoting in dollar.

The branch of a travel agent on Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 1 advertised their tours to Cambodia by quoting prices in dollar and dong.

"Exploring Angkor complex for a 4-day and 3-night stay at NagaWorld Hotel for $198/per person (VND4.3 million)," the branch's billboard said.

Foreign language centres and websites on real estate and car trading are also listing trading and rental prices in dollar.

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