Opinion
Money troubles: searching for a dollar
  • | dtinews.vn | March 25, 2011 08:28 AM

Since the new monetary policies of Vietnam’s central bank (SBV) have become strictly enforced, US dollars are hard to come by.

This means that, if all of your savings are in VND, trying to plan for a trip abroad, or even returning to your home country may have become a lot more difficult.

I’ve seen many of the reports about the crackdown on the unofficial currency dealing in the gold shops around Hanoi. But frankly, I didn’t really believe it. I have often converted my VND into USD at these tiny shops. Maybe the rates were not too favourable, but it has always been possible.

The other day, planning for a short trip to Laos, I went back to the little gold shop where I have always gone. The woman knows me, I’m her regular customer. She’s been changing my dong into dollars for a long time, and she knew why I was there. But this time, before even getting to the counter, she started shaking her head.

You know me, you’ve always cashed in my Vietnamese money when I needed it.

Stone face.

So, I asked her where to go, she told me to go to a bank; but she continued shaking her head.

I tried one more of these shops first. At this place I know the owners. For sure they would help me out.

Nope.

Sucking it up, I went to the bank. There were exchange rates posted on the wall in the back. Also, I’d read that commercial banks have been officially asked to provide for the legitimate demand for USD. Mine is legitimate enough: I cannot leave this country without buying foreign currency. If they needed any documentation, I was ready to provide it.

The teller shook her head in the same way the women at the gold shops did. Categorically, they would not sell me USD, at any rate, under any circumstance.

I tried three other commercial banks with the same results.

I do not keep a stash of USD, as my wiser friends have often suggested.

After a lot more asking around, I heard of more dubious ways to acquire US dollars. But I’m a law abiding (non) citizen. What am I to do?

Just recently Dong A Bank has decided to start selling USD. But they will only do so under certain conditions. I will go to Dong A Bank in hope they can sell me some USD.

The central bank has recently made proposals that might make it easier to acquire dollars, but it remains exactly what will happen; i.e. how hard it will be to buy a dollar.

So, be warned. If you haven’t planned ahead, your next “visa run” might not be as easy as the last.

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